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Addressing online safety

By Jennifer Lawhead, Executive Director of Austin Aspires

“Filter a website, and you protect a student for a day. Educate students about online safety in the real-world environment, and you protect your child for a lifetime.” – Christopher Harris

When Austin Aspires surveyed local parents about their needs in parenting children of any age in Austin, online safety was their No. 1 concern. The Pew Research Center’s “Teens, Social Media, and Privacy” survey indicates that the four areas of greatest concern for parents related to internet safety are: interaction with strangers online, reputation management, information available to advertisers, and impact on future opportunities.

Because those of us who are now parents did not grow up with the technology that is now accessible to our children, it is difficult to know how to best teach them to use technology safely, monitoring their use, while releasing them into the world! We met recently with parents and community leaders and developed a set of “rules” to use with our children to promote safety and personal responsibility for our young people.

Always trust your instincts: If something doesn’t seem right, tell a trusted adult.

Use your voice for good: Show respect to others in person and online.

• Safety first: Sharing personal information online could be dangerous.

• Think before you post: Everything you post online can be made public.

• Internet use is a privilege and part of a well-rounded life: Be respectful, responsible, and safe

• Now it’s your turn: Encourage your friends and family to make good choices too

Our jobs as caretakers is massive and not without its challenges. Austin Aspires hosts an online Facebook group called Parent to Parent where we ask questions, offer feedback and support each other in this most important work on topics ranging from online safety to discipline to managing schedules. Please consider joining the conversation.

If you would like to have a copy of these suggestions for keeping young people safe online, please contact Austin Aspires and we can make that available to you!