Earlier this week, Mount Vernon hosted Ben Halpert, Founder and President of Savvy Cyber Kids for a visit with parents and students in grades 4-12. With our ever-growing need for and access to technology, it has become increasingly critical to safeguard our children. Halpert is a man on a mission: to educate and empower today’s digital citizens in the workplace, at schools, and at home.

Director of Instructional Technology Katie Cain shares, “Ben’s dynamic workshops helped us consider how children and adolescents interact with others online. Beyond raising awareness of the potential dangers of the digital world, Ben also equipped students and parents with specific strategies to use in various online situations. We appreciate Ben sharing his time and wisdom with us, helping us all contribute to safe, responsible, and kind digital communities.”

Following is Halpert’s advice, and accompanying resources to equip families with the tools needed to protect their children in a digital world. This week I had the honor of discussing a multitude of cyber ethics related topics with your child at school. Cyber ethics topics include: security, privacy, digital strangers, bullying, technology addiction, digital reputation, and self image

Your child is growing up in a world filled with technology, that has both positive and potentially negative implications. The parent association, faculty, and staff at your child’s school understand the importance of teaching children how to make smart decisions when it comes to using technology. As a parent, it is important that you keep the conversation around cyber ethics going in your home on an ongoing basis.

Here are the topics we discussed in this week’s session:

Digital reputation management
Respect for others
Self-regulation of technology usage recognizing the addictive nature of technology
The importance of keeping clothes on in pictures and videos
Don’t believe everything you read, watch, or hear
Question everything, this includes product claims
What happens to a picture or video when you take it with your phone
Privacy profiles with social media
How to deal with strangers online
The importance of updating your devices
Recognizing common scams
Not sleeping with technology in the bedroom
Look for ways to volunteer and help others

Use the topics below to engage in discussions with your child(ren):

What do kids enjoy doing with technology?
How is technology changing our lives for the better?
How might you deal with bullies online?
Is it important to have respect and empathy for others?
Should you believe everything you read, watch, or hear?
Should we question everything, including product claims?
What happens to a picture or video when you take it with your phone?
Why do we need privacy settings and private profiles?
Is life is about how many likes you get on social media or what level you are on in a game?
How can you dream about the future and create goals to achieve those dreams?

Your child may discuss a map I showed them. The map shows where people previously
convicted of harming children live in the Atlanta area. It is an unfortunate reality of the world we live in, but I use the map to discuss the concept of strangers and how real they are. If you would like to see that map, you simply enter any address in the US and you will be presented with the results. The most accurate results are gained when you enter a specific address as opposed to a city. The free service is located at Family Watchdog.

We have recently released new parent and family technology guides. Text Savvy to 38470 on
your phone. You will then receive a response asking that you text back your email address.
Once you do that, we will email you a link to download the guides. We will be continuously
updating the information in our guides and in the Dropbox folder where we store them.

When it comes to parental controls, it is important to understand that they are not foolproof. The technology solutions may not catch everything and therefore should not be thought of as digital babysitters. However, parental controls are a great addition to your digitally parenting know-how and can provide great insight and conversation starters. Use the guides we provide to help set you and your family on the right path. If your child uses social media, take a look at Bark (it is what we use in our family). Bark only sends you an alert if it detects inappropriate aspects of communications, such as sexting, cyber bullying, drugs, etc. In addition, by not sending you a copy of every message or picture, Bark provides a balance of privacy for your child and insight for you regarding your children’s activities.

If you are looking for a more intensive monitoring tool with full conversation visibility, uKnowKids may be a good fit. Taking monitoring a bit further, if you want to see all keystrokes and other data, you can consider WebWatcher.

If you have any questions related to cyber ethics for you and your family, please email me at [email protected] You can learn more about our products and services at Savvy Cyber Kids.

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