Youth and the Internet

From the Desk of Rachel DeMille…

BEWARE INSTITUTIONALISM-keep your focusHi, Friends,

Don’t you just love being able to connect online with so many wonderful resources and people? From TJEdOnline Community to TJEd MUSE to Facebook and TJEd.org, This Week in History, The Center for Social Leadership and OliverDeMille.com, I’m finding that I have myriad ways to share my thoughts, interact with others on them and learn from others.

I had an interesting email from a new TJEder who pointed out a bit of content on our TJEdOnline Community that she considered inappropriate.

I was so grateful to her for both her vigilance and her sense of community to alert me to the problem.

It was not gravely offensive, and in fact it was a fan video about a popular book shared innocently by one of our youth; however, I did agree that it was not the kind of content I want to feature on TJEdOnline Community, and it was removed.

This little experience brought to mind a couple of thoughts regarding the power of the internet, the power of parenting and the power of community.

1. We can act as a community here, and elsewhere, to help facilitate the best and dismiss the worst of the internet for both our own families and those of our friends and neighbors.

This new friend illustrated how important it can be for us to watch out for one another and our kids in an unselfish and sincerely helpful way.

I have never been offended by the efforts of a friend to act as a nurturing adult for my children.

One of the tragedies of our modern culture is that extended families are so distantly located from one another that we lose out on the role of aunts, uncles and grandparents to help us rear our children and to provide worthy models for them.

How grateful I am for the substitute “aunts” that have stepped up to be a blessing to me and my family!

2. As parents, we should not be shy about monitoring our youth’s interactions online.

I have passwords for each of my eligible kids’ TJEdOnline Community and Facebook accounts.

I periodically peruse their posts, activities and interactions–and they know it.

By commenting on their wall often, being a part of their conversations online and speaking to them offline about their activity, they have the sense that their online life is no different than their other activities.

Mom and Dad are vigilant and involved in giving permissions, setting standards and enforcing boundaries, both online and in “real” life.

I give them feedback on issues of security, propriety and maturity, and I use it as an opportunity to critique their technical language proficiency.

I have on several occasions had reason to suggest the modification or removal of a particular post, profile information or so forth.

Once or twice I have even logged on using their account information and removed something myself without delay because I was concerned about the potential of identity theft.

3. There are tools to help us manage our kids’ online activities.

My good friend Rachel Keppner recently recommended a service that allows the Administrator (the parent) to easily block the internet for periods of time, block specific sites, or even just types of sites.

AND it has the flexibility to make exceptions for a period of time by typing in the password. She says it’s been a real blessing to her family–and it’s free. You can download it here.

To the extent that we use the internet in our childen’s education and socialization, we must make the effort and take the time to establish and adhere to standards and rules–just as we do in the other aspects of their education and socialization.

I have written elsewhere about my feelings on leveraging these important things using the internet.

Of course, by virtue of the fact that you’re reading this in a blog on my website, I’m sort of preaching to the choir here, right?

But we’re all at different levels of proficiency, and we’re all growing daily in our knowledge and facility with online applications, so this discussion will likely be ongoing.

This message is copied on my TJEdOnline Community and TJEd.org blogs, and you are invited to comment.

We will all benefit from one another’s input…

Blessings to you and yours,

xoxo rd

About the Author:

Rachel is the co-author of Leadership Education: The Phases of Learning and the audio series Core and Love of Learning: A Recipe for Success, and the author of the award-winning educational resource, This Week in History. She is an accomplished musician, writer, literary editor, public speaker, consultant and momschool organizer.

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