Helping Your Middle Schooler Be Safe in a Technological World
Middle school is a time in your child’s life where they will embark in curiosity like never before. Middle schoolers are constantly growing, changing, and exploring; and in 2020, times are different, as most interactions with each other are done through some type of electronic device. So as a parent, guardian, mentor, and teacher it is so important to help our adolescents understand the importance of safety in the technological world. Have conversations, even though sometimes it might feel awkward, they are so important. Your child is adapting to this season of their life and learning to be social or not be social. Most of this starts with the devices that are in their hands. Handwritten notes and the conversations that would often occur face to face are more historical than they are present. In some ways, this makes it easier to communicate, which may have positive and negative results. Often, it is not the best way for your child to learn to communicate. Your child may say, do, or experience things that you may not have had access to.
How do we approach this, and help navigate this new and always changing world?
Educate yourself and your children. You need to know and understand what apps are out there and how they work. Educate your children on what happens when they post or send something, and the possible impact from it. Discuss what is safe and not safe online. What is ok, and not ok. Express what is ok to you, might not be to another family.
Teach your kids how to verify a person’s identity. Help your child understand what “catfishing” is (someone creating a fake identity to manipulate or trick someone into think they are someone they are not). Understanding some people do have intentions to hurt or harm others is important when navigating the technological world. Talk to your kids about friending or following people they don’t know and accepting requests from strangers.
Help your kids the importance of creating and using passwords and protecting them from others.
Talk to your kids about spoofing. Hackers may use a link to send them to a different webpage in order to gain personal information or enables the hacker to learn usernames and passwords.
Talk to your kids about how they respond to others. Help them navigate and not participate in cyber bullying. Maybe your child is a victim of cyber bullying. This might be a time for your child to see a counselor. They may need to process through this and work to build their self-confidence.
Encourage your child and build them up. Communicate with them and be a part of their world.
These are a few quick steps to start you on guiding your child through this new phase of their life. Remember the best investment you can make is in your family.