With summer on the horizon, I have highlighted two topics that might be helpful to families during their sabbatical from school.
Suicide Prevention Apps:
Although summer sunshine is known to promote happiness, I encourage you to check out these suicide prevention apps and download one onto your child’s phone. “A Friend Asks” is my top pick for students. On this app they can view warning signs, explore resources, and connect to a counselor if they don’t feel comfortable talking to a parent or family member.
As much as we hope that our children will be frolicking outside this summer, let’s be realistic and acknowledge that students relaxing at home means having more time to explore online. Keep an eye on who your child is interacting with on their electronic devices. Is your child hiding their devices when you enter the room? Has their mood changed after group texts or online use? By not accepting your friend request, are they hiding something?
Giving your child an electronic device opens them up to an unruly world. They might be following your rules and innocently texting with a classmate, but what does that classmate have access to online that they are sharing? It becomes difficult to control what your child is exposed to once they are online.
Some questions you might ask to learn more about your child’s media use, along with promoting safety:
- Where do you spend most of your online time?
- What’s your favorite app or video game?
- Who do you game or communicate with most?
- Can I review your profile and privacy settings with you?
- What do you do if someone you don’t know starts private messaging you or commenting on your posts?
- Do you know the repercussions of lying about your age online?
- What image are you attempting to portray to your online friends?
- What can happen when you post inappropriate photos of yourself online?
- Do you understand that it isn’t acceptable to make fun of classmates or strangers online?
For more information, check out: www.ebully411.com On this site, you can learn how to access parental controls on various devices, download a child media safety contract, and access a variety of tips on how to talk about online safety with your child.
Ms. Stec is a school counselor at Morgan Park Academy, a private school located in Chicago, IL.