DCATweetChat3Many parents, teachers and students will ask: “How can we get our schools and communities better informed on up-to-date cyber-knowledge so they are better able to support our children?”

Let’s face it, our kids are usually ahead of us when it comes to technology, so we need to all work together to be supportive of each other.

It takes a village…. we hear that phrase a lot because it is true.

Let’s look at some ideas that you can bring to your community and resources that may help you.

Cyber-Classes:  Isn’t it about time schools offer digital citizenship/social media classes?

Like math and science, a teen’s virtual footprint will also be a determining factor not only in their college admission – but in their potential employment

Offering digital citizenship classes should be equivalent to the 21st Century Home Economics Class.  Talk to your school board and help them to understand that a student’s GPA is only part of a college admission.  It is no different than many high schools requiring community service hours; requiring digital citizenship class should be mandated.

Parents and Cyber-Classes: Every school should require parents to attend a parenting class on social media and cyber-safety etiquette.  It should be offered several times a year to keep parents updated on apps,  cyberbullying, websites and other cyber issues.  The school should be sending the parents updates in between especially if there are alerts they need to know about – such as the Slenderman situation.

PTA/O Must Be Involved:  Parent Teacher Associations and Organizations are people dedicated to helping students have a safe, educational and healthy school year.  It is about parents and teachers working together with the school for what is best for their children and students.

It is my opinion, that these groups should start organizing local cyber-experts to come to the school for classes or seminars that are required for all students and parents.  Especially if the school doesn’t have dedicated classes for digital citizenship yet.

As a side-note: Schools have no issue with having football or sports rallies – have a cyber-support rally!  Get the kids excited about learning new cyber-skills to keep them safer online.  With one in 4 students being cyberbullied – chances are very good having a rally about online abuse could actually save a life.

PTA/O raise funds for many great causes during the year, make this a priority too.  Cyber-safety is as important to parenting and education as toilet training is to toddlers.  We can’t ignore – and we all are a part of it.

Outside Sources:  Libraries have been a great resource.  Check in with your local library and find out if they have cyber-classes.  If they don’t — find out if there is a local cyber-expert that can offer classes at the library.  A place to start is your local Sheriff’s office!  Most all local Sheriff’s departments have some officers that are trained in Internet Safety. Contact them and get your community activated.

Local Libraries, YMCA’s, Civic Centers, and all places that are focused on community can be a place to start cyber-support groups or classes.

Cyber-Mentors Matter:  Believe it or not we can all be cyber-mentors and we all need cyber-mentors (including me)!  I am constantly learning as the Internet is constantly evolving.  Everyone needs someone they can call, email or text when they have questions or need help.  We must encourage our children to have a cyber-mentor they can feel comfortable with and we can also tell them they are able to mentor someone with what they are learning.

A child with self-confidence is less likely to make bad choices online – or off.

Being able to mentor someone creates a feeling of self-esteem for your child, however the deal is, they need a cyber-mentor too.

Open Digital Dialogue: Let’s not wait for national headlines about youth tragedies to have a chat with our kids about the Internet.  Chatting with your kids about their online activity should be a daily conversation – as common as asking them if they have homework.

Cyberbullying.us offers some excellent conversation starters for you.  This site also offers great resources for helping you learn more about protecting your kids from online abuse.  I learn a lot from this site too – they are mentors to me!

Don’t have much time? Exhausted?  Short chats are better than no chats at all.

Kindness Programs:  If your school hasn’t created a Kindness Club yet, be the motivator – get one started.  One of the best ways to combat peer cruelty, is with kindness.  As a community, adults included, create Kindness Programs that include your neighborhood.  The more you incorporate the entire family in activities offline that are about caring for others, it likely to reflect their online behavior.

Valuable Resources:  Like Cyberbullying.us, Common Sense Media is constantly keeping up with cyber-STUFF and all things media for parents and educators.  We often speak of youth spending the majority of their time online – but in reality, their role models aren’t that far behind.

Remember parents, look-up, face-to-face time is your best defense to help #StopCyberbullying.