CYBERSTRONG SUMMER

Ah… only a couple of days before school is out for summer break, and then suddenly there is time. Time to relax… to sleep in… to have evenings that are not crammed with the demands of homework and what is needed in the backpack for the next day.

Our kids will have more free time. They’ll be able to be blissfully bored. They’ll read… they’ll play outside… and, invariably, they will want to get on-line.

This summer is the perfect time to put a little effort into getting CyberStrong. We’ve got the time, they’ve got the interest, and we’re finally getting answers to the huge questions of how we keep our kids strong, safe, and competent in the cyber world.

How about we use these twelve weeks of summer to explore the cyber world’s fantastic potentials and significant areas of concern. We’ll do it with our kids, because one of the best ways for parents to get kids to follow their guidelines for anything, especially anything cyber, is to have their children participate in the process.

We’ll do it in small doses, and use fun exercises, and hopefully, by the end of the summer we will feel more confident about our cyber use.

The goal of this CyberStrong Summer Series will be to explore current cyber use and best practices in the areas of time management, safety, privacy (spoiler alert… there is none!), the effects of exposure to inappropriate material, social media use and etiquette, how cyber advertising works, and how to deal with cyber bullying and predatory behavior.

We’ll practice using the cyber world, especially social media, gaming and surfing the abundance of information, in age appropriate ways. We’ll also look at some of the best apps and site for children of all ages.

You can get started today with this first exercise. It might not seem relevant… but as Dr. Seuss said in the The Sleep Book, This may not seem very important, I know, but it is so I’m bothering telling you so.”

CYBERSTRONG SUMMER EXERCISE #1:
Sit down with your child…children…and tell them you are going to get CyberStrong this summer.  Then ask everyone in your family to talk about their favorite family memories:  vacations, traditions, rituals like Taco Tuesday or game nights.   Just take a few minutes and recall your best times as a family.  Write them down if you want. This will be the starting point for next week’s session.

Elizabeth Clark

About the Author

Elizabeth Clark has been a mental health therapist for teens and families for thirty years.  She is a presenter for CyberStrong, a collaborative community effort, funded by the Western Colorado Community Foundation, to raise awareness and give skills to parents and educators about the influence of technology on our children, families and community.