Back to School Tips for Parents and Teens
July 21, 2017
Internet Safety Series: How Do You Snap?
October 26, 2017

Since we released last month’s newsletter we have received a lot of feedback from parents regarding our post “Back to School: Tips for Parents & Teens” which addressed safe practices for taking and posting photos on social media (that post can be found HERE). Parents specifically wanted to know: how do I manage social media with teens? What is this app and is it okay for teens? Can/are teens really being targeted and lured by predators online?

These are all great questions to ask! We address all of the questions in our Internet Safety & DMST Prevention training which is available for groups of both teens and adults (request a speaker HERE). However, as a result of these requests, we will also be addressing these questions and providing some helpful tips in our monthly newsletters throughout the rest of the year.

Our first helpful tool:                  Common Sense Media is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping kids thrive in a world of media and technology. They provide unbiased information, trusted advice, and innovative tools to help parents, teachers, and policymakers leverage the power of media and technology as a positive force in all kids’ lives, with a desire to steer them away from things that are developmentally inappropriate, and help find the movies, apps, websites, etc. that are right for families and children.

According to Common Sense Media, “Kids today spend over 50 hours of screen time every week. The media content they consume and create has a profound impact on their social, emotional, cognitive, and physical development. Learning how to use media and technology wisely is an essential skill for life and learning in the 21st century.”

We agree! Because we live in a world immersed in technology, it is vitally important that youth, as well as adults, learn the skills necessary to ensure we are not just “digital citizens”, but we are also digitally literate. We need to actually understand what we are doing, how it works and the appropriate and safe ways to use technology. Learning these skills can also help decrease the amount of adults and youth unknowingly participating in risky behaviors online (i.e. sending nude photos, talking to strangers in chat rooms, posting too much personal information).

Common Sense Media offers some great resources to support families in this endeavor, including:

  • Library of independent age-based and educational ratings and reviews for movies, games, apps, TV shows, websites, books, and music. This is a great resource for when your kids are asking you about getting an app that you have absolutely no idea about. (Check out this clip of a recent TODAY Show Interview with Common Sense Media’s founder and CEO, Jim Steyer, on apps parents need to know about, including Yellow, which is being described as Tinder for teens, and Spotafriend, which comes with a mature 17 plus rating in the app stores).
  • Parent Concerns (i.e. cyberbullying, social media, internet literacy) and Parent Blog to help families understand and navigate the problems and possibilities of raising children in the digital age.
  • High-quality digital literacy and citizenship programs for educators and school communities.
  • Common Sense Kids Action which works with policy makers, business leaders, and other advocates across the nation to ensure that every child has the opportunity to succeed.

While technology and the digital world can be overwhelming and sometimes scary, it can also be used for good and is often extremely helpful. Don’t be overwhelmed, just be informed – Common Sense Media is great tool to help us do that!