Publishing platform and women’s site BlogHer held a successful convention in San Diego this past weekend and one topic of discussion was online safety and privacy for kids. In the talk titled “The Tie that Binds Parent and Child,” panelists Carrie Jacobsen, Catherine McManus and Jane Collins discussed how moms feel about technology’s role in their own lives, as well as their relationships with their kids. The panelists also addressed how many parents are reluctant to monitor their kids online because they feel uncomfortable and as if they are invading a child’s privacy. But Jacobsen, a Verizon specialist in responsible use of wireless products, pointed out that “with the Internet, it’s easier to hide things, but you have a right as a parent to go out and find what it is.”
Jacobsen made a great point, especially for parents whose kids aren’t technically old enough to have accounts on sites like Facebook. If a child wants to have access to some kind of social network, a parent has every right to know what activities their child will then be engaging in, and how they will behave on those sites. It’s also important that kids understand that what they put online can potentially be there forever, even though this may be a hard concept to grasp. Jacobsen suggested that one way for parents to teach their kids the full impact of their online actions is to ask them to think of a dream they have for the future, and explain to them that if they put something online that damages their reputation, it could ruin the possibility of that dream coming true.
While many of the discussion topics at the convention were specifically related to blogging, and moms who create their own content and communities online, it’s exciting to see that parents’ relationships with their kids – specifically regarding online behaviors – was a different issue addressed. Parenting is constantly changing as kids get involved with social networking and younger and younger ages – and it’s important for parents to know the best ways to monitor their kids’ activities to keep them safer online.
Do you ever discuss safe online practices and monitoring methods with friends who are also parents?