KEEP YOUR TEEN SAFE
If you were unable to make the parent forum on Thursday night, May 5th, I would like to share some of the highlights that Detective Bjerke shared around Cyber Safety from his 20 years with law enforcement; I also have some thoughts to share around your children and personal devices.
With their personal devices, middle school students are developmentally doing exactly what they should be doing which is exploring, checking things out and being curious. However, without some controls in place, they can get in over their heads very easily.
Detective Bjerke speaks to PAML 7th and 8th grade students each year around sexting and sending or receiving inappropriate images from their cell phone or personal device. It is illegal to possess or send any inappropriate image of a minor. Although students may have been pressured to do this, he reminds parents that it is more important to have a conversation with the child instead of looking at punishment and find the reason for them wanting or agreeing to do this.
Sending an image has a lasting impact that kids don’t understand. They have no control of their image once it is sent. He gave examples of all the people that may view it if reported and his office becomes involved.
Reminders for keeping kids safe: (More supervision and safeguards
for 5th and 6th graders)
*Most important is keep the lines of communication open - talk to them
*Know their passwords
*Check search history
*Check “friends” and followers; gamers - if they don't know who a person is, they shouldn't be "friends" or playing them in games
*Make sure privacy settings are private
*If you find things that are concerning, have a conversation with your child to look at reasons for their actions.
*Set limits for time spent on phones, devices, gaming systems.
*Go screen free for a night.
*Talk to you kids about it, ask them what they are noticing.
One thing to remember is that this is a small percentage of students that become involved in this, the dangers are there but most students can navigate this with parental support and guidance. Common Sense Media is a great resource for parents for all types of media situations. They have a tool which helps families make agreements and just open the conversation. Check this out here!
If you have concerns about your child, feel free to reach out. I see your child every day and want them to feel supported, challenged, encouraged and safe!
Some people say middle school is the worst time of their life, we at PAML all agree we are SO fortunate to be with children during this time of incredible growth and change.
Jessica Dambach, LCMHC