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Generation Gap

Closing the Generation Gap, Part 2: How the Mindset has Changed

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Generation Gap

Courtesy of Flickr

In our last post we talked about some of the most important ways that our world has changed in recent decades. These changes in technology and how they impacted our world are topics that we don’t think about often. Things change gradually even though technology is innovating at such a fast pace, and this gradual change sometimes makes it more difficult to find these differences. Once we point them out, however, it becomes painfully obvious just how different our world is today than it was 20 or 30 years ago.

Arguably more important, though, is the way that these changes in the world have affected the way that younger generations view it. While parenting hasn’t changed much to most people, the things that we have to teach our children have changed quite a bit. If we can’t view the world from their perspective then it makes it increasingly difficult to talk to them intelligibly about the issues that they might face on a regular basis.

Not only should we be talking to them about these new issues, but we also need to be talking to them about these issues in ways that they can actually understand. I don’t mean that we need to “dumb things down,” but instead I mean that we may have to move laterally and talk about these issues in new ways. We need to address these situations in ways that make sense to a child that grew up in the 2000s, not one that grew up in the 1980s.

Willingness to Share Personal Information

“Stranger Danger.” We all remember this catchy phrase that our parents taught us when we were little to make sure that we knew what to do if a stranger approached us. Some of you may even still use this phrase when it comes to teaching your own children how to stay safe. That is because it is important that your children know what to do in this situation. And I think most of us feel confident that if our child was approached by a stranger in person that they wouldn’t give that person any of their personal information and they certainly wouldn’t go anywhere with that person.

Unfortunately, however, this really focuses on the physical aspect of this interaction. Children and teenagers today are very comfortable interacting with strangers online, often times providing their personal information to these strangers without even thinking about it. Is the person I’m talking to around my age? Do they go to a school nearby? Are they interested in my hobbies? Are they attractive? When our kids start talking to someone online and they meet one or more of these criteria, often times they let their guard down.

The issue with this is, as many of you know, that people can appear to be anyone online. Fake profiles take almost no effort to set up, and tricking a child into believing you isn’t too difficult, especially if they want to believe you.

I want to make it clear, though, that not all people that your children meet online are predators. In fact, the majority of people online are regular users of sites and apps just like us, but there is always the potential. Just as in physical interaction, most people who would approach a child have no malicious intent towards the child, however we still teach them to be cautious in these situations.

It is important to translate this message over to the digital world. Just because we meet someone who seems nice, shares our interest, or is someone that we find attractive doesn’t mean that person has our best interests at heart. Communication with strangers online is almost inevitable in this world, so making sure that our children know how to navigate this communication safely is paramount.

The Importance of Social Media

When I talk to parents during my presentations I often ask the same question: “How many of you feel like your life would be greatly, negatively impacted if you could never use any form of social media again starting right now?”

The typical response? Generally less than 25% of the adults in the room raise their hand. Many times this figure is even lower, closer to 10% or so. So what does this mean? It means that social media doesn’t hold the same amount of weight for adults as it does for children and teenagers today.

Imagine a group of teenage girls in the 8th grade. Their primary method of communication is Snapchat. This is how they talk to each other, share pictures, make plans, coordinate outfits, and all of the other stereotypical behavior that 8th grade girls do for the purposes of this thought experiment. Now let’s say that one of these girls does something that she isn’t supposed to do, and her parent’s decide to punish her by taking her smartphone away from her for two weeks.

Now, during these two weeks, her friends don’t stop liking her. They don’t stop wanting to be her friend, wanting to talk to her, wanting to make plans with her, or wanting to include her in their lives, but there is a problem. The social media network that they use to communicate is more than a method of communication. It is, unfortunately for this girl, the infrastructure of their relationship.

Because she cannot communicate with her friends through any of their traditional means, she will experience some level of social isolation, which will cause her a certain level of discomfort or distress. This is probably what you were hoping for when you gave her the punishment in the first place.

It is, however, important to remember that taking this device away probably has a larger impact on her than you understand, because remember, most adults say this wouldn’t even impact them. What is important to do in this situation is to put yourself in your child’s shoes. By exercising empathy we can better understand how technology and social media factor into their lives.

The Role of Online Dating

While this topic might seem a little out of place, trust me, it will make sense.

20 years ago, online dating was largely seen as a fringe activity. People who were engaged in online dating at that time certainly faced stigma, however things have changed in the last 20 years. Online dating has become a mainstream activity, with everyone from college students to senior citizens getting in on the action. So how does this tie into teaching our kids about internet safety?

In 1997 I was 9 years old, and when my dad taught me about being safe online the conversation went something like this:

“If you meet a stranger online, and then you meet up with them in real life, you will die.”

It sounds funny now, but that is truly the mindset that we had when it came to meeting strangers from the internet. Now we call strangers to come pick us up from our house in their car and take us places. Times have certainly changed, and that conversation needs to change as well.

Our children see situations every day where people meet strangers from the internet and nothing bad happens to them. If we continue to approach these conversations in that “black and white” approach then we will lose credibility with them when they can point out concrete examples where what we said did not happen.

Instead, we need to approach these conversations like we would we when talk to our children about driving a car and drinking alcohol: at some point this activity might be safe for you to do, but right now it is not. Taking the time to explain the reasons why something might not be safe and that you have their best interests at heart goes a lot further than just laying out arbitrary rules.

Sexting and Inappropriate Messages

When we think of all of the things our children could do with technology that frighten us, the idea of sending nude pictures or inappropriate messages strikes a lot of parents as the worst. There is good reason for that, which is that these images and conversations can become both public and permanent, and there isn’t a lot that the original sender can do about it.

But has the technology turned our children in deviants? Is it because smartphones exists that our teenagers want to send these messages or pictures? I don’t think so.

Think back to when you were in middle or high school and realize that a lot was going on during these years. Besides school, extracurricular activities, and family most of us were also dealing with hormones, first kisses, and dating. These are all normal things that teenagers think about during these formative years, and technology hasn’t changed that.

What technology has changed, however, is the ability to act on that impulse. A process that would have involved a disposable camera, a trip to the drug store, a week-long wait for development, and a third party having access to the pictures was simply out of the question. Our children live in a world where they can take and send a picture almost instantly with no one involved in the process except the sender and the recipient.

This revolution in technology might seem like it is the enemy, but consider how many positive changes in the world this quality of communication has brought about. We are able to keep up with friends and family all over the world, business leaders can interact without boarding planes and flying to another country, and we can turn work into our boss without having to go into the office! The technology has added tremendously to our lives, but there will always be a little bad with the good.

It is important to remember that our children will have access to this technology whether we like it or not. Even if you don’t give them a smartphone, they’ll be around other children who do have one or they’ll find other means to accomplish the same actions.

We need to focus on talking to our children about the behavior itself, the consequences of those actions, and how we can prevent them from getting themselves into a troublesome, and potentially dangerous, situation. Remember, the action is the issue, not the technology. If we treat technology as if it is the problem we will only reinforce the idea that our children are not responsible for their actions, and that “technology made them do it,” which is an idea we need to banish.

Fear of Missing Out

You may have heard of Fear of Missing Out, or FOMO as it is sometimes seen, but you may not understand exactly what it means. As with a lot of the trends in the generations that follow our own, we sometimes have a hard time wrapping our heads around how theirs work.

Fear of Missing Out is, quite literally, that: being afraid that they will not share an experience with other people within their social circle. We have all experienced something similar to this, though we may not have used a catchy acronym to describe it. The difference between this experience for us and this experience for our children is that it is a much more common experience for them.

Think about all of the adults that you know that are important to you: your family, friends, community, etc. Now try to think about an experience that you all shared. It’s pretty tough to find some event that everyone that is important to you experienced. My go-to example is the Super Bowl.

Regardless of whether you like football, you probably experience the Super Bowl in some way. Perhaps you watch it for the game. Maybe you watch it for the commercials. Some people watch it just so they can see the halftime show while other may just show up to your place to eat food while the TV is on in the background. It doesn’t really matter the reason, but most adults share in this experience each year.

So imagine that you show up to work on the day after the Super Bowl. You enter the office and everyone is talking about it. They’re discussing the game-winning field goal, their favorite commercial, the fact that they ate too much, or some other aspect of what happened last night. Let’s say, though, that you missed it. Let’s say you were sick. So when someone asks you about the Super Bowl, you don’t have anything to contribute. They listen to your sad sick story for a few seconds, and then they move on to talk to someone who shared in their experience.

This is social isolation, and you are experiencing it because you did not share an experience with the other people in your social circle. For us, this happens a few times a year at most, but for our children, this is an everyday occurrence.

Their smartphones and computers gives them the ability to know everything about everything as soon as it happens, and if they don’t they may just have this same bad day that you did.

Understand, however, that it is OK to miss out on experiences to have other experiences. Our lives are defined by the things that we go through that other people do not. Your children do not need to be connected 24/7, but it is important to at least understand that they are under pressure to remain informed and connected to their social network.

We should talk to them about the importance of creating space, and reinforce the idea that they do not have to be connected all the time, but we also need to show patience and understanding that, to them, their social circle is the world. They don’t care too much about politics, world events, or any other boring adult stuff. Their world is largely made up of what their friends are experiencing and their ability to share in those moments.

Hopefully you’ve gotten a glimpse into the mind of your child! Feel free to comment below and let us know what you think!

Generation Gap

Closing the Generation Gap, Part 1: How the World has Changed

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Generation Gap

Courtesy of Flickr

Put yourself back into elementary or middle school and think about the way the world worked. Think about all of the things that were different: cars, computers, television, fashion, and just about everything else that we grew up knowing has changed. Some people might say these things have changed for the better, and some say they have changed for the worse, but the change itself is undeniable. This change has created a Generation Gap.

Parents had a different set of problems to deal with 20 years ago, and yet we still want to use the same techniques from that time in order to deal with the issues of today. Imaging trying to use a computer made in 1997 for work in 2017. How about trying to survive in our digital world with an old cell phone from the late 1990’s? It would be nearly impossible to survive in our world today using the tools from 20 years ago, so why would we rely on the same parenting techniques?

The world is changing, and our children are being exposed to new technology every day. In light of this changing world we have to prepare ourselves to teach our children the way to survive in the world in which they are growing up, not the world in which we grew up. Let’s talk about some of the important ways that the world has changed in the last couple of decades.

Access to Information

Think about yourself at age 10 or 12. You’ve been given an assignment at school and you have to collect information to complete the assignment. Where do you go? You answer, most likely, is something like “the library” or “the encyclopedia,” but the answer is different for children today.

Today we access information through the internet. We get our knowledge from Google, Wikipedia, YouTube, Siri, or any number of other sources. Those other resources are still available, but they are not typically our first choice. So what’s the difference between these options? One word: Curation.

The books in a school library and the information in an encyclopedia have something in common: someone had the specific job of putting those items there, and part of that job is ensuring that the information included was appropriate for consumption by the consumer. The books in the school library are appropriate for students of a specific age, and the information in the encyclopedia is appropriate for most people, with opinions nowhere to be found.

The internet does not have this type of curation. Sure, there is curation of content everywhere online, but it does not serve the same purpose. Most of the sources we access, and that our kids access, are not curated in a way that makes them safe for children to use. This means that while our children have access to an abundance of information that they will find useful and appropriate, they will also encounter plenty of information that is neither useful nor appropriate.

For online searching with young children, consider using a search engine specifically designed for kids, like Kiddle or Kid Rex. For teens doing research online, try Google Scholar or Sweet Search. None of these sites are 100% effective at removing inappropriate content, but the effort will certainly yield better results.

Lack of Physical Boundaries

The primary concern of a parent is to make sure that their child stays safe. Years ago that meant doing everything you could to protect your child from physical dangers because those were the dangers that were possible. Parents were concerned about speeding cars, peeping toms, and “Stranger Danger,” but times have changed. The introduction of new technology has changed the landscape from physical to digital.

Many of us invest our money to protect our children in physical ways. We might buy nice houses in nice neighborhoods, install security systems and make sure that all of the doors are locked, or even join our neighborhood watch to keep an eye out for any suspicious behavior. While all of these efforts are commendable, the parent who believes that their responsibility stops there is leaving a lot of room for risky situations.

The only way that a predator could connect with a child 20-30 years ago may have been through physical contact. However, in the Digital Age, the ability to meet and communicate with strangers is easier than ever. Whether your child is using social media, playing online video games, or leaving comments on videos on YouTube, there is now the opportunity to communicate with people all over the world.

Many of us search our neighborhoods online to see where all of the registered offenders might be, and we make efforts to insulate our children from those potential dangers, but the internet allows a world of people to have access to our children that physical boundaries can’t stop. Instead, we have to learn methods to protect our children while they’re online, and teach them how to handle situations with which they may be otherwise unfamiliar.

First, make sure that your child’s device has some restrictions in place, like access to specific apps and websites, so that you reduce the ability to connect with strangers. This restriction should be placed on every device that the child can access, including yours. Some devices, like Apple and Android devices, have features like this built-in, while others might require you to download or install additional software. Either way, do your research on how to best implement these restrictions and make sure that they’re in place.

Second, teach your children how to respond in a situation that makes them uncomfortable. They may receive a message from a stranger, click on an inappropriate link, or be prompted to give away personal information without much warning. Children should immediately stop what they’re doing and tell an adult what situation has made them uncomfortable. There should also be an understanding that your child’s safety comes first, and that they shouldn’t fear punishment when their safety is on the line.

Private Information Required Online

One of the topics I cover the most frequently when talking to students is which information is appropriate to share online, especially if that information is being shared publicly. I stress the importance of not sharing pieces of private information online in any way, where I define private information as information that strangers don’t need to know. Private information includes things like address, date of birth, social security number, phone number, and many others. So I drill this idea into their heads: don’t share any of this personal information online in any way, but is that correct?

I think back to 2015 when I applied for Education Coordinator with the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force at the South Carolina Attorney General’s Office, the job I hold as I write this post. To do this I had to go online to the South Carolina Jobs website and create a profile where I detailed all of this private information and much more. Information I shared contained references, former employers, what schools I attended, and just about everything “impressive” I had done in the last 10 years. I didn’t really want to share this information, but it was necessary.

See, in the digital world we inhabit today, sharing information online is crucial. It is not something we can avoid, but instead it is something that is expected and necessary not only for us to thrive, but for us to merely survive. Many of us file taxes online, apply for jobs, get loans, apply for college, and we do all of these activities hoping that our information remains safe, because we’ve been told that it will.

But will it remain safe? Online information is at a premium now, and we’ve seen a rising number of cases where large corporations, medical facilities, and even government agencies have had their secure information compromised. The fact is that once we put our information online in any way, shape, or form, we run the risk of that information going places that we don’t want it to go and being seen by people that we don’t want to see it.

When it comes to talking about private information with your children we want to focus on helping them differentiate between a reputable place to share information, like a government website, and an unsecured place to share information, like through a post on a social media app. There is always the chance that the information will get compromised, but by only sharing our private information when it is absolutely necessary and through secure channels we can reduce the risk of that information being used against us.

Emphasis on Sharing Personal Information

First, we have to make the distinction between private information and personal information. Private information is, as described above, information that we wouldn’t want strangers to know about us. We typically view this as sensitive information, like our addresses, phone numbers, birth dates, etc.

Personal information, on the other hand, is information that we don’t think of as sensitive in a normal situation. Personal information might include things like: who we are with, what we are doing, where we are, what we’re eating or drinking, what we’re thinking, how we’re feeling, and any number of other pieces of innocuous data that we don’t think can or will be used against us. So what are we talking about here?

Social Media.

Social media has many definitions, but it is generally accepted as any platform that has the primary goal of connecting and facilitating communication between 2 or more people. This can take many forms, but some of the most popular social media platforms at the moment include Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, Musical.ly, and Houseparty. We use these sites and apps to share pictures, videos, statuses, messages, comments, likes, and just about any other form of communication you can think dream up.

Now, it might be more common for kids and teens to be involved in social media than their parents, but there is a phenomenon that we have all experienced regardless of our age or social media use. Do you know someone who shares too much on social media? Perhaps someone who posts pictures of every piece of food that they eat? Maybe a friend who updates their profile constantly with negative or depressing information? It could even be the friend who has the perfect family that constantly posts pictures from all of their vacations while they are away from home.

The unfortunate truth is that almost all of us know at least one of these people. It may be a friend, family member, or acquaintance, but most of us see this happen, or at least hear about it, more than we’d like.

So we have to ask ourselves a question: if these people, who are, presumably, mature, responsible adults, post too much information about themselves online, how in the world can we expect our children to not make the same mistakes? The truth is that we can’t. Our children are human, which means that they will make mistakes, and they will likely make more mistakes than the adults you see doing the same thing.

We expect children and teenagers to automatically be experts in technology and social media just because they are born into a world where this technology exists. They are still children, though. They are learning, and most often they learn by making mistakes. We still need to teach and guide them in their journey, and that means not overreacting when they do make one of these mistakes.

Your child might spend hours with their smartphone or playing video games, but this doesn’t make them any more of an internet safety expert than you driving to work every day makes you a vehicle safety expert.

Check back next time for Closing the Generation Gap, Part 2: How the Mindset has Changed. Until then, check out our 10 Tips for Internet Safety for Parents!

At What Age Can My Child Use Social Media

At What Age Can My Child Use Social Media?

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At What Age Can My Child Use Social Media

                                                                                                                                     Courtesy of Flickr

We see it every day: children in elementary and middle school using tablets and smartphones to access apps and games. Often these children are unsupervised while they are using the device, which makes us wonder “who is making sure that child isn’t doing something they shouldn’t be doing?” Hopefully the parents of the children we see in those situations have taken some precautions that we cannot see, like setting restrictions on the device or knowing exactly what apps and games are available on that device at all times, but even the most tech savvy parents struggle with setting those limits. Kids and teens are asking for personal devices, like smartphones and tablets, earlier than ever, and with those devices come a lot of other issues that parents need to be ready to face.

I spend much of my time traveling to schools in South Carolina where I often host sessions for parents to help them understand technology better and learn how to help their children navigate the digital landscape more effectively. One of the questions that I receive most often is “how old should my child be before they can [insert any technology-based activity here]?” I get this question so often that I’ve begun to incorporate it into the presentation just so parents don’t have to ask me every time. While there are a lot of great guidelines out there to help us answer this question, it is a difficult one to answer. Parents love clear, decisive answers to questions, but unfortunately not all questions have these kinds of answers. Today we are going to focus on Social Media specifically, but we’ll touch on some other issues as well.

Social Media and COPPA

Most Social Media sites, including Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, and many others, require that their users be at least 13 years old before they can create an account and use the site or app. This age requirement is the decision of the app developer, but most companies abide by this rule in order to comply with COPPA, the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. COPPA was enacted by Congress as a way to protect the information of children less than 13 years of age, and it was issued and is enforced by the Federal Trade Commission. It was originally passed in 1998 and took effect in 2000, with a later amendment taking effect in 2013. The Act is lengthy, but the core ideas are outlined by the FTC below:

The primary goal of COPPA is to place parents in control over what information is collected from their young children online.  The Rule was designed to protect children under age 13 while accounting for the dynamic nature of the Internet.  The Rule applies to operators of commercial websites and online services (including mobile apps) directed to children under 13 that collect, use, or disclose personal information from children, and operators of general audience websites or online services with actual knowledge that they are collecting, using, or disclosing personal information from children under 13.  The Rule also applies to websites or online services that have actual knowledge that they are collecting personal information directly from users of another website or online service directed to children. Operators covered by the Rule must:

  1. Post a clear and comprehensive online privacy policy describing their information practices for personal information collected online from children;
  2. Provide direct notice to parents and obtain verifiable parental consent, with limited exceptions, before collecting personal information online from children;
  3. Give parents the choice of consenting to the operator’s collection and internal use of a child’s information, but prohibiting the operator from disclosing that information to third parties (unless disclosure is integral to the site or service, in which case, this must be made clear to parents);
  4. Provide parents access to their child’s personal information to review and/or have the information deleted;
  5. Give parents the opportunity to prevent further use or online collection of a child’s personal information;
  6. Maintain the confidentiality, security, and integrity of information they collect from children, including by taking reasonable steps to release such information only to parties capable of maintaining its confidentiality and security; and
  7. Retain personal information collected online from a child for only as long as is necessary to fulfill the purpose for which it was collected and delete the  information using reasonable measures to protect against its unauthorized access or use.

Courtesy of FTC

How do they know the age of the user?

Most social platforms willingly enforce this rule as to avoid any issues from the beginning, but not every social platform tackles this problem head on. Some platforms, like Facebook and Ask.FM, ask users their date of birth or age as a part of the registration process, refusing any users who identify themselves as under the age of 13. Other platforms, like Twitter and Instagram, inform users that by creating an account that they agree to the terms and conditions of the platform, which includes being 13 years of age or older, but the platform never explicitly asks the user to provide their date of birth or age.

Unfortunately, child users do not know that they shouldn’t use the platform if they are under the required age, and the information is never clearly presented to them. I speak directly to elementary and middle school students on a regular basis and often when I ask “How old do you need to be to use Social Media apps, like Instagram and Snapchat?” I am met with answers that range from “eight” to “twenty-one!” While we know that children would most likely ignore this requirement and create the account regardless of their age, it still removes an opportunity for the children and parents to make a more informed decision on what social platforms their children should access.

Information Collected

So what information does COPPA prohibit websites and apps from collecting? Again, the FTC outlines this information for us below:

The amended Rule defines personal information to include:

  • First and last name;
  • A home or other physical address including street name and name of a city or town;
  • Online contact information;
  • A screen or user name that functions as online contact information;
  • A telephone number;
  • A social security number;
  • A persistent identifier that can be used to recognize a user over time and across different websites or online services;
  • A photograph, video, or audio file, where such file contains a child’s image or voice;
  • Geolocation information sufficient to identify street name and name of a city or town; or
  • Information concerning the child or the parents of that child that the operator collects online from the child and combines with an identifier described above.

Courtesy of FTC

What is interesting about this information is that is doesn’t only apply to information that the platform requests of its users, but it also applies to all of the information that the users willingly or voluntarily share. This means that if your child shares a picture of themselves, an audio file with their voice, or a piece of geolocation data, then the company has technically violated COPPA if they knew, or had reason to believe, that the user was under the age of 13. These are companies that manage millions of users daily, so trying to turn their attention to specific accounts based on age is difficult. The companies typically do their best to respond to reported violations, but since these issues are managed on a case-by-case basis, it is unlikely that any sweeping action or reform is coming soon.

Digital Parenting Takeaway

                Most Social Media platforms require that their users be at least 13 years of age in order to register and use their service, primarily because the information that they will likely share is also likely to violate the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. Luckily, this makes decisions for parents relatively easy, in that the children just aren’t allowed to use the platform or else they violate the rules, but this argument may not easily convince your child that they don’t need to access the platform. Instead of adhering to a rule that you had no hand in creating, try these 3 different techniques:

Try Social Media with your children.

                Just because they aren’t allowed to create an account and share their information online doesn’t mean that they can’t participate. By downloading and using a social media platform you can help model the proper behavior for your children before they have access to a similar platform on their own. Make videos, take pictures, and explore social media as a team through your account, that way you have control over the content that is published and the communication that might take place as a consequence of that material being placed online.

Look for other ways for your children to be online safely.

                Social Networks aren’t the only way that children can go online and feel like they are interacting with others. Online games made specifically for younger children offer the opportunity for them to communicate with others without having to provide any personal information or details. Also, your child’s school may use classroom-based tools that mimic social media, which allows them to get the experience of communicating with other users online without putting themselves at risk.

Talk to them about Social Media safety long before you give them access.

                Let’s face it: your kids are going to do things you don’t want them to do. This might mean that they decide to get on Instagram or Musical.ly without telling you. This could be at a friend’s house or through someone else’s device. If you haven’t taught your children how to stay safe online then they could still be making a lot of these mistakes and now, even worse, you won’t even know about it. By talking to them early and often about these issues, we can help ensure that even when they break some of the rules that they will still remember how to prioritize their safety and privacy.

For more information about specific Social Media platforms, visit our Guide to Internet Safety for Parents. Feel free to comment below or e-mail me at jryan@scag.gov with any questions!

Welcome to SC SafetyNet

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SCSafetyNet.org is a resource for families, educators, and law enforcement to learn more about Internet Safety and Digital Citizenship. SCSafetyNet.org is created and moderated by the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force through the South Carolina Office of the Attorney General. Our goal is to provide information to all readers that will aid them in their endeavors to embrace technology within their community while also using that technology safely and responsibly.

Parents

SCSafetyNet offers parents resources and tools that they can use while becoming knowledgeable Digital Parents. Parenting in the Digital Age is difficult, but it is possible! We understand that it seems nearly impossible to keep up with all of the newest Apps, Games, and Websites that your children are using, but we’re here to help. We strive to provide actionable information to parents to focus on the core issues that can best prevent your children from making mistakes online or becoming the victim of an online threat. We want parents to learn that the key to Digital Parenting is communication, and that technology is a useful tool that can aid you in your journey. Keep an eye on our Blog, and check out our 10 Tips for Internet Safety for Parents!

Kids/Teens

SCSafetyNet aims to teach children and teens how to use the internet to improve their lives, not make it harder! We strongly believe that young people growing up in the world today must be engaged and involved with technology including the internet, social media, and personal devices. We never want to discourage the use of this technology, but instead we hope to help guide the use of this technology to make for a better experience for everyone. Cyberbullying, online predators, and protecting your personal information are issues that almost all young people deal with in our technology-driven world, so let us help you learn how to deal with these problems safely and responsibly. Check out our 10 Tips for Internet Safety!

Educators

Teaching in the Digital Age is hard work, but we’re here to help! With most school now incorporating digital devices into the classroom, teachers are expected to know the best methods of student engagement. School faculty and staff, including administrators, counselors, and others, are also often the first point-of-contact for students once an issue has occurred online, whether that issue is school-related or not. Knowing how to handle these issues, effectively manage educational technology, and make the most of the technology that your students are expected to use is a priority, and we want to make that as easy as possible. Check out our resource page for Educators!

Law Enforcement

Law Enforcement is a demanding profession, especially when dealing with technology. The law has a difficult time keeping up with the technology, so how in the world is the Law Enforcement Officer supposed to keep up with it? The Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force deals with technology related issues every day including social media, search warrants from tech companies, and digital evidence processing. We’re here to help law enforcement from all over the US deal with these obstacles. For more information, visit our Law Enforcement page, and if you’re in South Carolina, we can offer presentations for your community as well! 

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