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Three False Assumptions Parents Believe About Their Child’s Cyber Safety

Three False Assumptions Parents Believe About Their Child’s Cyber Safety
By Cyber Safety Cop • Issue #7 • View online

Three False Assumptions Parents Believe About Their Child’s Cyber Safety
Speaking with a school principal after I finished a Cyber Safety Workshop for her 150 5th graders at her elementary school, she remarked how important this education is for her students, and how disappointed she was at the lackluster turnout for the parent workshop I did the prior week.
“Every parent of every child in your class should have been there last week,” she exclaimed.
We only had about 25 parents show up to the well-publicized workshop. This kind of turnout is not unusual. If by sheer coincidence, there was a cyberbullying incident at the school just before my workshop we would have had a packed room. The parents who do attend the workshop are blown away, and insist we schedule another workshop next month so they can get the word out. They can think of 10 parents who needed to be at my seminar. The second class is better attended. Parents are tired and overworked. I should know. Being a parent of two boys, 14 and 16-years-old. After investigating thousands of cyber related crimes and other incidents, I have come to the conclusion that an unfiltered, unsupervised internet is one of the most dangerous places for our children to be. But, why aren’t parents attending a class that will help them make the Internet and social media a safer place for their child? I have discovered that most parents are living under false assumptions about the Internet and their children’s part in it.
False Assumption #1.
It is not that big of a deal. The National Crime Prevention Council reported that more than 80 percent of students surveyed said they either do not have any set boundaries about what they can do online by their parents, or know how to easily get around them. Nearly 100 percent of parents that I talk to after I learn about an issue with their child’s online activity, have no idea what is going on in their child’s online world. They gave their teen or tween a smart phone with no parental controls or restrictions. They are flabbergasted to find their child has created multiple social media accounts, victim or perpetrator of cyberbullying, viewing pornography, interacting with adult strangers, or send nude images of themselves to others. Unless your child is living in a gang-infested neighborhood, an unsupervised Internet is the most dangerous place for your child to be.
False Assumption #2.
If my child was having a problem online, they would tell me. In a report from the Cyber Bullying Research Center, only 1 in 10 children will tell their parent if they are the victim of cyber abuse. Why do only 1 in 10 teens feel comfortable enough to tell their parent about being a victim of cyberbullying? The answer is simple: They are afraid of losing their phone or access to their social networks. Teens would rather suffer through being bullied than lose their vital connection to all their friends. How can we turn that statistic around?
We need to make children feel safe to come to us and tell us about problems they encounter online. I teach parents to do this by using my Mobile Device and Internet Usage Contract. I instruct parents to go through the contract with their children, and tell them if they come to them immediately about an issue, they will not get punished. If they hide it, and don’t tell their parent right away, they get the full set of consequences discussed in the contract.
False Assumption #3:
This technology thing is too much for me, I’ll never understand it. Parents are busy working, getting their kids to and from sporting events, and putting a hot meal on the table. The thought of having to take on one more task, as daunting as learning how to operate their child’s electronics, makes them want to throw their hands in the air in surrender. The bad news: If you care about your child’s safety, you must learn a thing or two about your child’s electronic devices. The good news: there are a lot of good resources out there to help.
My website has a blog full of helpful information about popular apps your child wants to download onto their device, but shouldn’t. Also, you will find where I am speaking next. My parenting seminars are FREE to attend.
I wrote a book, Parenting in a Digital World. It will take you step-by-step through each of your child’s mobile devices, computers, and game consoles, and show you how to turn on the hidden parental controls that will help keep your child safe. You will also get invaluable tips on the Usage Contract, managing screen time, and what to do if your child is being bullied or victimized online.
Lastly, inquire how you can bring me to your school. I give parent seminars and student assemblies for elementary through high school grades.
Find out how to bring Clay Cranford to your school or organization
Find out how to bring Clay Cranford to your school or organization
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Cyber Safety Cop

I am a law enforcement professional, school safety expert, and author of Parenting in the Digital World - A Step-by-Step Guide to Internet Safety. I am dedicated to teaching parents and children how to live safely at home, at school, and in their digital world.

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