It’s not a stretch to say the digital age has shaped the way we parent. We share photos, quotes, words of encouragement, and grow our networks of like-minded parents. In many ways, we’re more connected than ever before.

As a parent of a 10 and 13 year old, that connectivity has trickled down. I consider myself fairly savvy when it comes to being online. I’ve worked in the digital world for nearly ten years now, and for the most part, it’s been wonderful and amazing.

So why am I so nervous about my kids entering that world?

to share or not to share

When my daughter was in fifth grade, she told me some of her classmates had Facebook accounts. Curious, we looked them up together. While a few of the kids had their accounts set to private, several of them did not. Every image they posted, everything they wrote was there for us to see. Even the middle finger one of her classmates gave the camera.

Maybe that scarred me. Because while my kids play Xbox Live, and text with friends, we haven’t yet made the leap to social media.

you can’t police them 100% of the time

But talking with fellow mom Bridget Stickline, I realize I have a blindspot. As the owner of Wee Chic Boutique in Green Spring Station, she sees many of her customers and their tween and teenaged kids come through the store, sometimes with phones in hand. Her observation? “You can’t keep them away from it or police them 100%.”

And there’s truth in that statement.

About a year and a half ago, a young girl was lured from her Perry Hall home after meeting someone through Xbox’s Live’s chat feature. That prompted an aha! parenting moment for Bridget. “I would have never thought about the Xbox being used that way.”

And frankly, neither had I until she mentioned it.

hidden is bad

That incident inspired Bridget to reach out to the Baltimore Child Abuse Center. She invited BCAC to Wee Chic Boutique to deliver a series that would empower and educate parents and their children about social media.

The three-part series, developed by BCAC educators, starts February 26th. The first session is for parents; the second is for kids; and the third is for both parent and child together. 

The series is hosted in Wee Chic’s multi-use space called, The Room. It’s a closed off space so parents and kids can feel safe to speak freely. It’s by reservation only and 100% of the proceeds go to BCAC.

“We hope to make it somewhat light and interactive enough that the kids won’t dread it. We want it to be a non-threatening environment, so even if they don’t share, they’ll hear the information.”

She added, “We want to encourage kids to speak freely to experts and see their parent as a partner, not curbing their creativity. The goal is to create an open dialogue.”

Keeping social media hidden, or in a blind spot like I’ve had it, is bad.

but what about boys

As Bridget and I spoke, I thought about my 13-year-old daughter, not my 10-year-old son. I realized another blindspot as Bridget shared, “There’s a misconception in our society that girls are more at risk than boys, but young boys need to be included in the conversation. They’re equally at risk, so we need to make sure they are equally prepared.”

And she’s right. Rather than continue to stick my head in the sand, the safer option is to educate my kids, and myself.

get educated, feel empowered: tweens and technology

BCAC has developed a three part series.

Session 1: Understanding the Internet, Safety, & Tweens
Session for Parents only
Friday, February 26th, 6PM-8PM

Session 2: The Internet: Understand the Dangers & Protect Yourself
Session for Tweens only
Saturday, February 27, 1PM-3PM

Session 3: Bringing it All Together: Partners for Internet Safety
Session For Parents & Tweens
Friday, March 4, 6PM-8PM

If you book Session 1 for $20, you get access to all three sessions. The fee admits you and two children. You can buy an additional ticket if you have a spouse, co-parent, grandparent, or additional children you’d like to attend.

While you can book Session 2 for $10 (includes you and up to two children), Bridget recommends if you can only make one session, book Session 3 for both you and the kids ($10 for you and two children). If you can’t make the commitment to all three, then do this one. You can come alone without your kids if that is most comfortable for you. Click here to book now.

learn more about baltimore child abuse center

Curious to learn more about Baltimore Child Abuse Center? Make a donation? Volunteer? Click here.

 

 

 

Image Credit: Stocksy