Our Digital Footprint
This Month: What YOU need to know about SEXTING and The Parent’s Cyber Safety Checklist
Yes, children as young as 12 who have cell phones have participated in sending or receiving a text or message with explicit images, aka “sexting.” And did you know that a minor who sends an explicit image via his/her phone, like a nude photo, to a friend, could be arrested for distribution of child pornography? It is a felony crime in Washington state and could have serious emotional and legal ramifications on that minor’s future. This is just a part of what many TOPS students (4th-9th graders, age-appropriate presentations), staff, and parents learned in February, when Kelly Crouch from the Seattle Police Department’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force visited TOPS to give Cyber Safety presentations. The students also had the pleasure of meeting Bear, an SPD Electronic Detection K-9, and his handler Detective Ian Polhemus.
The goal of these presentations was to help educate TOPS’ parents, staff, and students on being safe in the digital world. Kelly shared with the adults tips like limiting screen time by adjusting the hours that wi-fi is available in your home, not allowing a data plan so you can limit your child’s entry into social media, how to see which ghost Apps are installed on your child’s phone, or super-gluing the photo lens on his/her phone so they can’t take photos.
Super-gluing your child’s phone may not be the first item on your list, but having a list to help you, the parent, navigate digital safety is a great first item on your list. Below is a Cyber Safety Checklist to help you and your child stay cyber-safe. And read on to learn more about “sexting” and how to talk about it with your child.
Sexting is defined as the sending of sexually explicit messages or images via cell phone (Merriam-Webster) and even if you feel that your child would not sext, it is something you should talk about with your child because someone else in her social world might be sexting. Most teens say they felt pressured to sext, so come up with a gameplan with your child should a similar situation happen to him - stress the importance of not forwarding on any images, notify an adult, and compile witty comebacks when he needs to say No to a sexting request. Remember, once an image is out there, you have no control over it. Here are links to informative articles about sexting, a podcast about the possible consequences of sexting, as well as a heartbreaking video of one young woman’s experience with sexting and cyberbullying (TOPS’ 8th graders viewed this video during the Cyber Safety Presentation):
Cyber Safety Checklist
Set Parental Controls
Step by Step instructions on using the power of safety settings to control access to inappropriate content on cell phones, computers, streaming and gaming systems: Internet Matters Parental Controls
Suggestions for parental control software or Apps as well as how to calibrate your home’s network or wifi: Best Parental Control Apps and
Everything You Need To Know About Parental Controls
Ghost Apps? What they are and how to find them: Sneaky Camera Apps Also, from the App store, you can search “hidden pictures” for example, and related apps installed on that phone will show as “Open” or “Update.”
Take the Media Time Family Pledge
Sign a Cell Phone Use Contract
For the Gamers in your life, What you need to know about Gaming
Before you hand over that new cell phone or computer, and if you choose to do so, let your child know that you will be monitoring his usage, know her passwords, check for ghost accounts & apps, “friend” but not stalk her on social media, and perform periodic checks of his phone. Clearly outline consequences for violations of your established contract.
Establish a trusted adult, other than yourself, that your child could turn to should s/he find themselves in a very difficult, sensitive situation.
Encourage your child to decide today what his/her on-line persona will be like. A teenager’s on-line history could impact her/his future. Kaplan's Survey-of-College-Admissions-Officers1.pdf
Watch this video that encourages your child to think about on-line behavior: What's Your Story? (This is a Line)