Friday, March 25, 2016

Keeping Up with Your Tech Savvy Kids

I recently presented a "Cyber Safety Night" at my school in an evening session for parents.  We offered babysitting, snacks and provided an hour of information for parents.  About 6 weeks later, I was invited to share my cyber safety presentation at the school of one of my School Counselor colleagues for her "Parent University" in two 25 minute sessions.  Although the numbers were lower than I would have liked, the parents who attended were appreciative and reported they learned a lot.

Why a Cyber safety night?
The number of devices children own or have access to has risen dramatically.  When I surveyed parents, there were about 9-10 internet accessible devices in each home (in families with 1-2 children). Gone are the days when there was one computer in the family room where you could see where your child was going and what they were doing.  Now they have smart phones, tablets and handheld games which can access the internet anytime, anywhere there is WiFi.  Gone are days when looking at pornography was done in the woods with a "dirty" magazine provided by some older kid with a bad reputation. Kids with smart phones can view anything, including pornography, in the backseat while parents are driving in the front. They can even view it innocently by mistyping a search or purposefully by typing specific words in Google images, "porn" on Twitter, or any number of seemingly innocent hashtags on Instagram.

I think the best analogy I heard about children and the internet was about 10 years ago at an internet safety program I attended.  The idea was we don't let our children drive without instruction, lots of practice, and a license, yet we allow them to go free wheelin' on the internet, the information superhighway.  I tell parents their kids may be more tech savvy, but we are more experience savvy.  The internet is a wonderful place.  I love being able to connect with friends, plan vacations, look up a " how to" on YouTube or research a new topic or idea.  And kids love to be on the internet too.  But I know NOT to overshare, accept friend requests from strangers, click on pop-ups, and share personal information.  I know to keep my settings on social media private, what to do if I receive creepy or inappropriate posts, not to post anything written, a photo or video I wouldn't want to see on the front page of the newspaper, not to respond to phishing  emails, and more.  But kids are not aware of all the dangers on-line.  They go to a site because their friends said go or they click on a link that offers something for free.  They accept friend requests because it is a friend of a friend or they are trying to raise their "friend" count. They share passwords, their location, and other information that should remain private. They post provocative photos, sext, and are exploring apps that are inappropriate for their age. Our students are placing themselves at risk for damage to their reputation, identify theft, and being approached by a predator.

The Counselor's Response
For the last 9 years, I have been collecting data from my 3rd-5th grade students. I use an anonymous Survey Monkey survey to learn  about their internet usage and bully/cyberbully experiences. The data was surprising and occasionally alarming. The survey results led me to create an annual presentation for parents. My goal was to increase parent awareness of how their students are using the internet and the risks students face on-line.  This presentation takes place at an independent cyber safety night, as part of our Bulldog Bonanza, or at a PTA or SAC meeting. I also use the student survey data to support and guide my classroom lesson plans on internet safety and bullying.

Cyber safety Presentations
Below are links to my 2 cyber safety presentations, both have the same basic information. The longer version  has video clips and contains information on predators and cyber bullying.   Prior to presenting to the parents at your school, I would encourage you to take a quick survey of your own students using Google forms to see where they go and how much time they spend on-line.  The survey below is very basic.  However, it will help you when you present to be able to share relevant information with parents about the students at your school.

Keeping up with your Tech Savvy Kids  (35 minute PowerPoint)
Internet Education for Parents of Tech Savvy Kids (about an 1 hour PowerPoint, maybe more depending on audience)
Google Form for basic data collection about internet usage
CAUTION: This is a live form. After opening this form make a copy.  Go to File on the left side of the form and click. You will see a menu that says make a copy.  Click and rename your copy so it is saved to your personal drive account and all responses will be confidential and relevant to your school.


If you download these presentations, and especially if you do a Parent Cyber Safety night, please leave me feedback here or on my Exploring School Counseling Facebook page.  I am always interested in your and your parents response to my programs. I am interested too in learning ways you think I can make these presentations better.

Have you done a Cyber Safety Night?  I would love to hear about your ideas and programming!


  1. Wowzers! Thanks for sharing such a wealth of information. You've definitely done the heavy lifting on this one.

    I really like how you use Google Docs to gather data! I bet it's interesting to see patterns after a few years (yes I'm a data geek).

    Best wishes,

  2. From one data geek to another, thanks!!! The Survey Monkey form I designed and use is much more detailed than the Google form above. It has been interesting to see the shift from MySpace to Instagram, the rise in the amount of time online, # of student devices, and cyber bully incidents.

  3. This is simply amazing. Thank you so very much!

  4. Thank you for sharing this wonderful,helpful, well thought out resource(s). We held a parent power night last night with 4 sessions. One of which was led by our counseling department.The parents that attended provided positive feedback and were so thankful for the information shared regarding apps, parent tips, and resources available.

  5. Thank you for your work and sharing it! I'm looking to use these presentations with our parents.