CBS21 News: Child abuse prevention organization creates guide to keep kids safe online

Part of caring for your students this year should be something called “digital wellness.” This means teaching them how to be a good online citizen, stay away from bad things on the internet and how to handle bullying and mental stressors.

PA Family Support Alliance created a new tool. It can serve as a great way to start these conversations.

“We have children and youth who are spending five to eight hours a day on their electronic devices,” said President and CEO of PA Family Support Alliance Angela Liddle. “We have kids who are seeing things like what they believe they should look like. It’s really becoming a concern and often times kids don’t know who to talk to about this.”

According to PA Family Support Alliance, 66 percent of parents in the U.S. say parenting is harder today than it was 20 years ago. Many of those parents cite technology as a reason why.

“You wouldn’t invite strangers into your home to hang out with your kids yet the reality is that’s what happens frequently on virtual platforms,” Liddle said.

Data shows about 70 percent of kids encounter sexual or violent content online while doing homework research.

“Don’t fool yourself into thinking this can’t happen to your kids because it can and it likely will unless you really be proactive and get in the conversation,” Liddle said.

The PA Family Support Alliance created a guide to digital wellness for parents with pages of tips on how to talk to your kids about what they’re seeing online and create a plan with solutions for your family.

The digital toolkit can be used by parents, caregivers, and communities. It contains easily digestible information on social media, digital use, and how to prevent children from being harmed in virtual environments. The guide also includes a detailed FAQ section, tips, interactive quizzes, fact sheets, and action steps that can be tailored by families as they become more proactive in reducing digital threats and preventing the potential abuse of children.

PFSA recommends that parents, caregivers, and communities focus on being digitally diligent and adhere to the 5 P’s:

Pause to become aware of the current digital dangers that threaten children and families;

Prioritize your family’s most urgent needs related to digital threats and safety;

Protect against current digital threats to your family by implementing a family digital safety plan;

Prevent the risk and harm of future digital threats to your family by practicing digital safety routinely; and

Practice healthy interactions with digital technologies through transparent behavior and role modeling.

PFSA’s Family Digital Wellness Hub will be regularly updated with free resources and materials. You can find it here.

From CBS21 News, August 12, 2022

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