Social Media is an awesome tool but recently I found a whole drug world hidden in plain sight. Tumblr is a popular social media franchise with teens and young adults. I was looking for some new platforms to spread awareness about the heroin epidemic, so I joined Tumblr. The first thing I did was search the word heroin, and Oh My God!!
Tumblr Has Become a Playground for Children Who Use Drugs
Parents, if you have middle school or high school kids in your home, you need to read this! Tumblr is a scary place. No joke, check it out for yourself. There are profiles and profiles dedicated to promoting heroin and drug use. We are not talking about smoking some pot either. These kids are posting pictures of themselves shooting up heroin, cocaine and flaunting any and all drugs on their profiles as though it were something to celebrate. They post pictures of their stashes and piles of money; it’s like a competition to see who has the best and largest selection of illegal drugs.
Many parents believe that Tumble is the safer choice, it’s far from it. The truth is we have no clue what are kids are doing online, unless we pay attention. There were reports in Kentucky this summer of teens belonging to a secret group on Facebook where they were selling drugs to one another. There were hundreds of members. A parent accidently found it or it, would still be going. What that tells us is that there is no telling how many secret groups there are on Facebook doing who knows what. The only way to keep your kid safe is to keep them away from the computer and let’s face it that is impossible these days. It’s part of life. So I looked into some ways to keep an eye on exactly what they are doing while online and here is what I came up with.
Keeping an Eye on our Children Who Use the Internet
http://www.webshadow.org is free and worked great when I used it for my 8-year-old today
There are many more, find which you like and let us know.
Also here are some tips to think about to protect your child while using the internet
No Underage Facebooking Did you know that no one under the age of 13 is permitted to join Facebook? However, there is no real way for Facebook to truly enforce it because anyone can lie about their year of birth. You need to make sure that your child stays away from Facebook until 13 AND until you are comfortable with him or her having an account. There are measures put in place, such as reporting a young child, but ultimately, it should be the parent who has say on when and if that account gets created.
Check Privacy Settings
Check that your privacy settings for the Internet and Facebook are set to the strictest levels. Depending on which browser you are using, you can adjust the settings directly from the options tab and adjust levels around cookies, third party sites and more. This not only protects the computer user, but also the computer from the threat of viruses. Checking your Facebook privacy settings is easy as well.
Use Filtering Software
There are software suites you can purchase to monitor your child’s Internet usage; many even enable you to view the exact keys that were typed, time spent online and all computer activity in general.
Create Ground Rules
If your kids are old enough to be using the computer on their own, they are old enough to understand that there are rules they need to abide by. Breaking them should not have a lesser consequence than if they broke a rule in the offline world. The best way for families to agree on ground rules is to create a contract that all parties must sign.
Get To Know What Your Child’s Habits Are
You don’t need to be a super sleuth and spy on your kid’s every online move, but it is important to be aware of the kinds of sites he is frequenting and the people he is associating with. You get to know the friends he’s hanging out with at school, and his online friends shouldn’t be any different. One of the contract rules should be that you have full access to his Facebook friends and can take a look whenever you wish.
Keep the Computer in a Central Location
It’s much easier to keep tabs on any online activity when the computer is located in a high-traffic zone than if your child is using a computer in the privacy of her room. Place the computer in a central location like your kitchen or family room so that everything is out in the open.
Urge Your Kids to Avoid Questionnaires, Free Giveaways, and Contests
A pop-up ad appears and tells kids they can win a free iPad by just clicking the link. Anyone would be tempted by this kind of offer, but kids are particularly susceptible, so it’s important to warn children against falling for this sort of Internet trick. Many of these are attempts to glean personal information. Inform kids that even if they are forwarded a fun questionnaire from a friend, it’s best to close the window and not participate.
Monitor the Pictures Your Child Posts Online
In an ideal world, your child would never post a photo of herself online, but that might not be entirely realistic. If she wants to share photos with her friends via email or a social networking site, be sure you know which pictures are posted. Make sure the content of the image is completely innocuous and that no identifiable locales in the background are noticeable.
Be a Good Example of How to Use Social Media
If you are tweeting and updating your Facebook page at a stop light and taking every opportunity to “just check something,” you’re setting a poor precedent for social media usage that your child will surely follow. Always remember to ask yourself if you’re setting a good example.
Limit Cell Phone Use
Cell phones are a valuable tool especially for emergencies. However, they can easily be abused and children in particular, can get into a lot of trouble by using their cell phone at inopportune times and for doing things they should never be allowed to do. Limiting cell phone use to certain times and under some kind of supervision may be wise, especially when children are at the most impressionable ages.
Just as you would limit the use of a computer, TV or gaming system, you can do the same with a cell phone. Set rules for the device, only allowing cell phone usage at certain hours in the evening or after homework has been completed. If you have teens of driving age, the most important rule to enforce is that under no circumstances should cell phones ever be used while driving. Phones should be kept off so incoming text sounds aren’t a distraction or should be maintained in the glove compartment, out of reach.
Teach Kids about an Online Reputation
Many kids don’t seem to understand the permanence of the online world. Make sure to stress to your kids what a digital footprint is and the impact inappropriate messages or images could have if a future college administrator or employer were to stumble upon them. Always remember, what goes online stays online.
Talk to Kids about Online Dangers You may feel like you’re scaring your kids when talking to them about the dangers of being online, but it’s better for them to be scared than to be unaware. Having an open line of communication is crucial the minute your kids start using the Internet more independently. “Who’s a stranger online? Everyone is! You need to remind your children that these people are strangers and that the standard rules always apply.”
Get to Know the Technology
Kids have gained a mastery of technology so quickly and can easily pick up on the nuances that any new gadget has, far more easily that we can in some cases. It is every parent’s responsibility to know exactly which key features are included in the gadgets our kids are using.
The moral of this story is that the internet is awesome but for kids, it can be a very dangerous place. Protect them while online like you would if they were in your backyard. Know what is going on. They are too important to take chances.
Written by, Joann Miller – Managing Publisher and Director of Marketing for Kill the Heroin Epidemic Nationwide™
Edited and Published by William – Publisher and Founder
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