Every one of us needs to do our part to make sure that our online lives are kept safe and secure by being aware of how the technology we use every day actually works. That’s what Savvy Cyber Kids is all about. As parents and teachers, we have a responsibility to guide young people, who are spending a large part of their lives immersed in the digital realm, with a comprehensive cyber ethics education. What’s on your mind? Let us know topics you would like us to explore in future blog. Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dear Savvy Cyber Kids,
For some background, my daughter is in 9th grade. I have taken away her electronics before for various reasons, but she just borrows her friends devices. I know because I see her posting to Instagram. I have discovered that my daughter met someone online and he sent her a picture of his penis. And then she sent the picture to her friends. The school found out and she is being suspended.
What should I do?????
Mom of 9th grader
Dear Mom of 9th grader,
I am so sorry for what you are going through.
First off, please know that I am not an attorney, so please do not take anything I say as legal advice. I will provide you with information based on my experience. If at any time you feel like things may be getting out of control, contact an attorney that can advise you.
Second, based on the information you provided, it sounds like the person your daughter met online is an adult male and someone your daughter does not know from school or other activities. Based on that assumption, Here are steps you should consider taking.
- Know that parenting children today is no easy task. Our parents never had to deal with this, but we have to digitally parent our kids EVERYDAY.
- Your child, and frankly many children, will find a way to do what they want with technology even if we as parents take away one or more avenues of access.
- While as parents we work to prevent bad things happening to our children, sometimes things happen we can’t control. You probably told your child not to communicate with people they don’t know on social media. Though no fault of your own, she did not listen and started to communicate with a stranger online.
- These strangers that friend or follow and then try to communicate with our children are predators, child predators. These people have one thing in mind when it comes to our children and it is nothing any parent would want for their child.
- In this case, I would go to https://report.cybertip.org/ to report the predator. Provide as much information as you can so that the good folks at the CyberTipline can get the right law enforcement agencies and technology companies involved to track down and stop this specific predator from continuing to go after your child and other children online.
- Go through your child’s social media accounts with her and ask her who each friend or contact is. She should know them all from school, camp, extracurricular activities, the neighborhood, etc. Anyone that doesn’t fit that criteria should be removed or blocked. Make sure she knows that you are trying to protect her and make sure she gets the opportunity to grow up (it’s a concerned parent thing).
- When it comes to your daughter and her actions, if she still doesn’t understand the gravity of the situation (including communicating with a child predator, forwarding an inappropriate picture, getting suspended from school), I recommend you seek professional help. There are psychologists that can help your daughter work through this tough time.
- This specific experience will have life-long impact on your child, and hopefully they will come out of this smarter and stronger than before. Continue to talk to your child about making smart decisions when it comes to using technology, especially social media and games, where predators know their targets spend all their time.
If we can ever answer anything else for you related to your child’s use of technology, please send use an email to email@example.com
All the best,
Savvy Cyber Kids
Savvy Cyber Kids educates and empowers digital citizens, from parents and grandparents, to teachers and students. Sign up for our free resources to help you navigate today’s digital world with cyber ethics. See more cyber safety and cyber ethics blogs produced exclusively for EarthLink. Looking for a social media parental control? Try a 30-day free trial of Bark. If you sign up after your trial, Bark donates 25% of your monthly fee to Savvy Cyber Kids.
Thank you to the Savvy Cyber Kid’s sponsors!
Interested in becoming a Savvy Cyber Kids sponsor? Email Ben Halpert.