- Talk to your kids – ask questions (and then confirm to make sure they are telling you the truth)
- Ask to see their profile page (for the first time)… tomorrow! (It gives them a chance to remove everything that isn’t appropriate or safe. And it becomes a way to teach them what not to post, instead of being a gotcha moment. Think of it as a loud announcement before walking downstairs to a teen party you’re hosting.)
- Be involved and work with others in your community. (Think about joining WiredSafety.org and helping create a local cyber-neighborhood watch program in your community.)
Keep it in Perspective
- Remember what you did when you were fifteen that your parents would have killed you for, had they known.
- This too will pass! Most kids really do use blogs and social networks just to communicate with their friends. Take a breath, gather your thoughts and get help when you need it. (You can reach out to WiredSafety.org.)
- Don’t believe everything you read online – especially if your teens posts it on her Xanga!
Remember – You Are Still the Parent!
- It’s not an invasion of their privacy if strangers can see it. There is a difference between reading their paper diary that is tucked away in their sock drawer and reading their Xanga. One is between them and the paper it’s written on; the other between them and 700 million people online!
- And, finally… repeat after me – “I’m still the parent!” If they don’t listen or follow your rules, then unplug the computer… the walk to the library will do them good
Parry Aftab is a security, privacy and cyberspace lawyer, as well as an author and child advocate. She is a worldwide leader in the area of online safety and parent and child Internet education. As Executive Director of WiredSafety.org, the largest online safety and educational program in cyberspace, Ms. Aftab helps prevent and investigate cybercrime.
Copyright 2006 Parry Aftab, all rights reserved, duplication requests to Parry@Aftab.com