Sexting and Selfies...Parents Be"A"ware
When I first learned what sexting was, I couldn't believe that anyone would post nude pictures of themselves online. And then when I learned it was teenagers doing it, I thought about what would have happened if my father found out that naked pictures of his then 15-year-old daughter were "out there" for the world to see. Showering with my clothes on would have become the norm.
As every parent knows, nothing online is private. Teens are posting information about themselves and their lives for the world to know, learn, and see. And while much falls into the "never share" category, it's being shared. And it's scary. In Susan McLean's new book, Sexts, Texts & Selfies, " parents will find information they need to know along with things that fall into the "worst nightmare" category...and what to do about it.
From cyberbullying and appropriate game apps to online "grooming" and the everlasting digital footprint and reputation, there is also information addressing teens with ADHD, depression, and Asperger's Syndrome. We as parents like to think we're "on it" and doing a great job of oversight and monitoring, yet the reality is that when it comes to the cyber world, our kids -- and even the youngest -- are lightyears ahead. They're smart and savvy and know tricks to keep what they're doing online from the eyes of even the most tech savvy and watchful parent.
Things I didn't know...
Replace the concept of online "privacy" with online "security" (important shift in approach and thinking)
Consider hiding your child's friends from public view on Facebook (if I could, I'd do this now with my young adult child)
Sites targeting terms I never heard of before - Pro-ana and pro-mia (a very serious concern for many parents)
Places where teens can chat with strangers without anyone registering (talk about wanting to move to a hut in the forest)
McLean, who is from Australia, provides resources, many of which are from abroad yet can be easily accessed with great information, and also provides a template for a family safety agreement, easily adapted to your own family's needs and expectations.
Peppered throughout are real-life examples that will have every parent wanting to hide all technology and wishing for the 1960s. One was about a 7-year-old who posted a picture on Instagram which resulted in someone responding with her address and a picture of her house. Another was about a 6th Grade boy exposed to graphic pornography that another student had on a bus ride to camp. His trauma afterward continued for months.
In few areas does the phrase "information is power" apply as much as regarding the digital world and our kids. It's a new world for sure, and while "helicopter parents" are often ridiculed, after reading this book, all I can say is that I need another set of rotors.