Circling the Wagons: Helping Parents Protect Kids in Cyberspace

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wagon circle
Picture of wagons circled at Oregon Trail Interpretation Center by Hugh Millward

How do parents protect their children in a networked world? How can parents encourage their children to make good decisions online? How can we live a balanced life while using technology?

As I step into the role of Program Director for the Educational Technology Master’s Degree Program at FPU, I wrestle with these questions as a Dad as well as a Professor who seeks to guide future educational technology leaders in this critical area. With the advent of mobile technologies, smartphones and one-to-one technology initiatives in school districts, children and teenagers have more and more access to cyberspace and parents as well as educators are struggling to keep up.

From my own personal experiences and research in the field, it seems that there are 3 primary goals for a parent.
1) Protect children through the filtering of content.
2) Manage screen time to fight online addiction and provide a healthy balance to life.
3) Promote and build internal character in kids through family contracts and conversations to develop the skills necessary to make wise decisions online.

There are no simple answers, just hard work if you are going to guide your children effectively in the networked world. To help in this endeavor, I have put together a website of research, videos, resources, and tools for dealing with this 21st-century parenting issue. You can find it at http://bit.ly/2twjnUr. I will continue to add links as I discover them.  Please make sure that you check out a device called, “Circle.” It has been an incredibly useful tool in my household for helping me manage content and screen time with my kids.

God bless as you face this brave new world with your children and teenagers!

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