BGCA and Sprint: helping to keep your kids #CyberSafe #IC #ad

Posted on Jun 28 2015 - 11:01pm by Nicole Smith

“I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for Boys & Girls Clubs of America. I received a promotional item to thank me for my participation.”

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Did you know that June is Internet Safety Awareness Month?

This month marks the third consecutive year that BGCA (The Boys & Girls Clubs of America), along with Sprint, are helping to educate parents about internet safety awareness. They are asking parents to submit questions they may have about cyberbullying, social networking, online privacy, mobile smarts and any other cyber-related issues. And they would LOVE all of you to submit questions you may have about online safety. They are there to help make a difference and potentially save lives. I actually submitted three of my own questions in hopes I can learn additional ways to protect and educate our kids about online safety.

Those answering submitted questions are teenagers called BGCA’s Cyber Safety Ambassadors. All questions submitted are answered from a teen perspective with the hope they will help educate parents and other influential adults so they can help children avoid harmful online situations.

In addition to the questions page, the BCGA Cyber Safe Futures site is filled with resources to help educate parents. There’s even a quiz for parents to take that allows them to see if they’re doing enough to protect their children online, and provides advice on what else they can do to keep kids safe.

Did I mention you may win a prize for submitting questions? It’s true. Three iPad Minis are up for grabs, along with a $500 donation to the winners’ BGCA of their choice.

Why does cyber safety matter to me?

Ever since my kids began taking tae kwon do lessons just over a year ago, I’ve been more at ease because I know they are learning techniques they can employ to help defend themselves if, God forbid, someone tries to hurt them.

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While increasing their power physically is important, they also need to work on the brain side of things. They need to be taught ways to protect themselves outside of what they learn at tae kwon do. After all, being physically strong isn’t everything. Knowledge is power too. And we want our children to be knowledgeable…to know what to look for when others mean them harm.

See, I may be turning 33 in just a few days, which makes me old in the eyes of our children, but in reality I’m still young enough to remember what it’s like to be a teenager and want to try new things and fit in. And because I can still remember my teen years, I’m worried about the future well-being of all four kids.

When I was a teenager, we didn’t have high speed internet access like we do now. It was good ole dial up for us. So a lot of the problems kids face today weren’t as prevalent back then. Sure, there was bullying, but it’s gotten much more sinister, in my opinion.

Parents did still have to worry about their kids meeting strangers, though.Though my brother and I didn’t have a computer to go online with, we did have WebTV, which gave us access to chat rooms. And my mother grew to hate that device with a completely understandable white hot passion.

See, I was a dumb, naive teenager. I had no common sense, and I made ill-informed decisions because I thought I was invincible. Newsflash teenagers, you’re not.

Because of my actions as a teen, I know what to look for when it comes to our four kids.

In fact, there are things that have happened with certain children that I instinctively knew were going to happen based on things I’d taken notice of in the past. While some think I’m lost in my own world with my head up in the clouds, that’s not the case at all. I’m an observer. I notice many things that others wouldn’t think I’d notice. The older I’ve gotten, the more observant I’ve become.

I’m in an unique position because of what I do for work. I have a vast social media presence for my job, and when new social media sites come out, I hear about them before the kids and try them out. They have no idea how to find all of my social media sites because not all are under my site name.

Teens can be sneaky. And ours are no exception. But me, being who I am, if ours are doing something wrong, I will eventually find out. I know my way around the internet, and I can find things others wouldn’t expect me to locate.

Because I’m parenting four kids and know my way around the internet, one of my missions in life is to help protect children online and off…to keep them from making the same mistakes I did.

There are parents out in the world that have no idea what their kids are up to online. We’ve seen it on the social media pages of our kids’ friends. In fact, we’ve seen a lot we find appalling. It’s not only talk of drug use or sex, of which we’ve seen a lot of, even in kids as young as eleven years old, that bothers us. These kids also leave their phone numbers on their pages and asking people to text or call them. These numbers perfect strangers can see.

Some are also cyberbullying others. Cyberbullying is no joke. It has become very easy to hide behind a screen and post mean and hateful things about others without having to deal with any consequences. And in some instances, there are even parents encouraging the behavior or doing it themselves. I actually just watched a movie about it several weeks ago.

It’s partly because of the things we’ve seen that my husband and I have helped make the choice to not allow the kids on those sites. They’ve tried to pull the wool over our eyes and go behind our backs, and in the end got caught.

When the time comes, and they’re finally allowed on those sites, you can bet all of us will be watching them like a hawk to make sure they’re behaving in a proper and safe manner.

As a parent who wants to make sure all kids are safe, I appreciate what BGCA and Sprint are doing to help raise awareness of internet safety. Thank you, BCGA and Sprint, for doing this…for helping to educate and protect.

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