LEWISTOWN - Though being a parent has never been easy, the Internet hasn't made the job any easier. Just how seriously are parents taking their role of monitoring their children's online behavior?
I would tell you that in an eight-hour day of school, I am normally involved with several incidents involving some form of harassment from Facebook, texting, Snap Chat etc. Almost all of this occurs outside of school but follows the students here.
Then there are incidents from the Internet where kids are at home unattended and are coming into contact with inappropriate sites or people.
Mifflin County School District does a great job of monitoring the Internet at school. A large number of sites are blocked. If parents would follow its example, it would make things much easier.
These forms of social media, when monitored and used correctly, are great forms of communication and education. However, for some, it has become much easier to voice opinions, spread rumors and stir things up without communicating face-to-face.
Online predators have long been a concern of parents and law enforcement, but the ease with which those predators connect with children may be surprising, even in this digital day and age.
The FBI says it's not just computers, but cell phones, iPods - anything that can connect your child to the Internet - that could put them in the clutches of an Internet predator. And today, the definition of a predator has changed.
Online predators now are everybody. They're not just the creepy-looking guy that everyone associates with. A 13-year-old girl can be an online predator.
With the trend of "sexting" among teens, or exchanging sexually explicit photos or text messages, a new culture has grown.
A new study from the Digital Future Project finds a divide in parental approaches to Internet supervision. Seventy percent of parents say they monitor their child's online activity on Facebook and other social media sites, and 46 percent have password access to their children's accounts. In contrast, 30 percent of parents don't chaperone online interactions because they trust their kids, don't want to show a lack of trust, don't know how to use social media sites or don't have time.
My children range from 14 to 26. I'm not the perfect parent and have had the wool pulled over my eyes a few times. But I've always found out about it. I check on what my kids are doing, where they are going and where they have been. They hate it. I check their accounts because you have to. I guess my philosophy is that it's not that I don't trust my kids, it's that I don't trust yours.
I believe the reason we are seeing such a profound struggle is because parents fall in multiple generations. We are dealing with so many different types of people and lifestyles. In an attempt to combat inappropriate site surfing, some parents are downloading programs that block, record and alert parents by monitoring Internet use.
You do things because you love your children and you want to protect them, but kids aren't evil creatures. The Internet is a dangerous place. Predators monitor you, your kids and their contacts.
- CNN reports a real shocker: Teens are better than their parents at using the Internet, and are likely to hide online behaviors from them.
That news comes from a 2,017-person survey funded by the online security software maker McAfee.
- Seventy percent of teens hide their online behavior from parents, according to the report released in January. That's up from 45 percent in 2010, the group says.
- These hidden behaviors include some things you might expect - such as accessing violent (43 percent) or pornographic (32 percent) content online - but also a few surprises. Fifteen percent of teens have hacked into social networks; 9 percent have hacked into e-mail accounts; 12 percent have met face-to-face with a person he or she met on the Internet; and 16 percent of teens surveyed said they had used their phones to cheat on tests at school.
In short, kids are using digital devices with Internet access most of the time after school and when not sleeping.
Eight- to 12-year-old kids are not typically malicious, but they are curious. Kids innocently get into trouble online without thought of consequence.
Teens are another story. They know the truth and they can be mischievous. Teens are faster learners than their parents, and they know more overall about technology. Unfortunately, there are teens who apply that advanced knowledge to hiding online behavior from parents.
It is never a good thing socially for a child to spend too much time online. Parents need to monitor their child's online activities if for no reason other than to prevent the child from limiting his or her social interactions.