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Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!): What are your kids doing online?

Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!)

My goal here is to make your life easier, especially those who are in the unique situation of being a military spouse. Yes...I've been around...but in a good way...and hopefully can share those tips, tricks and shortcuts with you too. I've been on this military bus for over 40 years now. My goals in life are to have a well-run home, few money worries, well adjusted children, money socked away and whatever happiness I can scoop out of life.

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After life as an Army brat, being in the Army myself and marrying a soldier, I can honestly say I have a bucket full of life lessons I can share to help you make your everyday life easier and enlightening. Don't waste your time making unnecessary mistakes and benefit from others who have come before you on your journey through life.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

What are your kids doing online?

You've probably already had it drilled into your head....know what your kids are doing online. We do have software on our computer, watching over things....our kids are not savvy enough to have figured out how to bypass it just yet. I guess we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. We do follow some other basic rules, such as having our computer in a central location, as well as letting the kids know that they are to never post their real names, location, address, phone number, school, birthdays or any other personal information online. Just like those trolling online for kids, they have mastered the "fake persona" on mom-approved sites and webpages. Even their church plugs into some faith-based message board, where kids from around the world connect. As positive a site as it is, I still don't allow them to use real information. But what else can you do to keep your kids safe?

I recently read the book, What in the World are Your Kids Doing Online by Barbara Melton and Susan Shankle. Now it's a pretty hefty book, and if you get a chance, do get it from your local library

My favorite recommendations from the book include:

  • Never say anything in email or instant message that you wouldn't say in person....to pretty much everyone...everything you type on that computer can be tracked, either from your computer or your internet provider's servers...nothing is ever truly deleted.
  • Realize that there is such a thing as internet addiction and know that many young kids are heavily getting into internet gambling. I saw an expose a few months ago where they tracked students at some Midwest high school, and you'd think these kids were on drugs...they weren't...they were just addicted to gambling online. Not only was their school work suffering, but their physical and emotional health, not to mention all the credit cards and money they had stolen from family and friends...what a downhill spiral!
  • If you choose to allow your child to have a My Space page or any other social networking page, get added as a friend there and frequently check in. Let your child know that what they post online, including pictures that may seem harmless now, can come back to haunt them later, especially when they try to get a job. Make sure they know that ANYTHING they put online will be permanent, even if they choose to erase it later. Let them know there are servers out there that archive the web, one being archive.org, and that nothing undone is truly undone.
  • Cyber-bullying is real and can be very harmful. Keep lines of communication open with your child. Discuss what they see and do online and don't chastise them or make them feel shameful when they happen to see things online they maybe shouldn't....talk it through.
  • What does your child do when you walk by the screen? Do they turn it off? Do they act "funny"? Are there multiple tabs on the bottom of the screen?
What tips do you have to share that you use to keep your kids safe online?

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3 Comments:

Anonymous Vanessa said...

Good tips. I dont know if I should be spying on my teenagers though. I would feel too much like my mother.

September 4, 2008 at 4:23 PM  
Blogger Linda said...

I liked the hint about being added as a friend to myspace or other social networking sites...

Most of the soldiers in my hubby's unit have myspace or facebook...and that's the reason why I have one now. We felt it the least intrusive way to keep an eye on them without them realizing it. They all like me, and add me to their friend lists...but they wouldn't be so quick to add my hubby (their commander). And a few disparaging remarks on a myspace page CAN and WILL bite you in the backside...they've learned (but not because of ME, amazingly enough - someone else in the unit reported them!)

September 4, 2008 at 11:58 PM  
Anonymous Susan Shankle, MSW said...

Hi everybody, and yes, it's really me, Susan Shankle, co-author. Thanks for the reference to our book.

Vanessa, if your children put anything on the World Wide Web you're not spying. it's out there for the world to see. That's one thing we hope kids will understand. The computer, the house, all the utilities belong to you. You can't spy on your own stuff, haha!

If any of you are at Bragg, I'll be there at ACS at some point to answer your questions. I'll keep you posted. Take care!

Sue

September 9, 2008 at 2:04 PM  

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