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Parent help in digital world

Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, YouTube.

Social media — digital formats that promote virtual interactions — have become a ubiquitous part of our children’s lives

“As a soccer coach, I see it,” said Sarah Wallis, of Antioch University Midwest’s School of Education.

“It’s incredible. Even the young kids.”

The use of social media typically involves the sharing of personal information, and with that comes exposure to potential dangers. Addressing those dangers is the purpose of a free, public presentation Wednesday, June 4, at Antioch University Midwest. The 7–9 p.m. session will be led by representatives of the Digital Danger/Digital Innocence Project.
The nonprofit group, based in Columbus, is run by men and women with law enforcement backgrounds and is law enforcement based, Wallis said. The group has presented similar programs locally in the past, but the changing face of technology keeps the topic fresh.
Wallis said that AUM’s School of Education is hosting the event as part of an ongoing community outreach initiative and in response to a perceived need for more information about the issue.

“We had a community session last year that was very successful,” Wallis said. “One thing I kept hearing — this whole social media piece is growing and growing.”

This year’s community presentation — “Parenting in the Digital Age: How Social Media can impact your child’s personal safety and career aspirations” — is meant to give local parents information and tools to better protect their children.

“It is hard for even the most safety conscious parent to keep up with the fast-paced evolution of technology,” according to the Digital Danger organization.

With new online sites and digital applications continuously emerging, parents, teachers and other caretakers can feel at a loss.

“We don’t know the new platforms that social media can be used on,” Wallis said.

Some of the concerns that will be covered June 4 include cyberbullying prevention, monitoring online activity, establishing rules for digital use and intervening if children break the rules.

In addition to its immediate impact, a child’s social media use can have long-term effects as well, Wallis noted. School officials and employers may see photographs and read online postings that could derail one’s dreams and aspirations. And trying to clean up after the fact likely won’t help.

Once something is online, “it’s there forever,” Wallis said.

While the June 4 session is free, registration is recommended. Contact Sarah Wallis at swallis {at} antioch(.)edu or 937-769-1862.

The Digital Danger organization offers the follow tips for children’s online use:

• Keep the family computer in a public area, so you can monitor your child’s activity.

• Monitor your child’s Internet activity, including checking the history of online activity.

• Establish rules for your child to follow while they are on the Internet.

• Consider an Internet curfew for your child. They have a curfew in the real world, so they should have a curfew online, too.

• Encourage your child to share their online experiences with you, the good as well as the bad.

• Let your child know that the use of the Internet is a privilege, not a right.

• Remind your child that anybody they haven’t met is a stranger. Make sure they know that you should never arrange a face-to-face meeting with anybody they’ve initially met online.

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