Keeping Kids Safe

This was originally posted by the Marion & Polk Early Learning Hub here.

There are so many positives and benefits of virtual technology and our increasing learning of how to use it. One thing that I have noticed is a major increase in and for parenting support and parenting education classes. So much so in fact that I have created my own workshop “Becoming A Super Dad” that is focused specifically on helping dads better engage with and support their little ones. If you’re interested or know a dad who is, please check out the link here and sign up for the upcoming dates. Major thanks to the Marion & Polk Early Learning Hub for their support!

Unfortunately, there are also some big drawbacks to technology especially in regards to our little ones and safety.  With our current health crisis and many families and children stuck at home more often, it is easy to see why the use of technology is more appealing and more used by children and their parents alike.  And please don’t take this as a condemnation of devices and screens as I very much enjoy playing games, doing research and watching shows and movies with my kids.  The danger comes when we allow our little ones to use these screens unmonitored and for extended time periods beyond what we would normally allow.

Online predators, cyberbullying, and inappropriate ads and content are just a few of the myriad of things kids can get into when using devices without supervision.  Kids as young as 5-6 years old (and sometimes younger) are seeing images that are inappropriate for them and beyond their developmental ability to process.  Predators online target and intentionally seek out children and teenagers who have unsupervised access and use it to take advantage of them.  It is our job as parents, grandparents and caregivers to encourage appropriate technology use and monitor what they see and how much of it they are allowed to enjoy.  April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month (click here for a great toolkit from the Marion & Polk Early Learning Hub) and is a great time to really highlight and spread the word about internet and technology safety.  One local organization doing a great job of this is Liberty House, whom I’ve had the privilege of taking a child abuse awareness course from.  They have helped design a great resource: “iRespect & Protect” all about promoting healthy technology use and supporting kids, teens and parents who may be struggling with the damaging effects from online abuse.  I highly encourage you to check out their website, take the pledge and encourage other parents and caregivers in your networks and community to do so as well.  As the Child Abuse Prevention Toolkit shares: “Together we can learn to keep our children safe. We can also become aware of the prevalence of child abuse and the cost to the community when we don’t collectively address the issue.  YOU can help influence change: One of the best protections from abuse is building safe, appropriate relationships with our children and expecting the community to do the same.”

This is keeping kids safe…

This is fatherhood…

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