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Kids & Technology Issue1234

Keeping Kids Safe Online

Our interconnected world has ​led to many breakthroughs and positive changes. It has erased borders, started revolutions and granted ​anyone with an Internet connection access to thousands of years of human learning and understanding. Unfortunately, this new virtual reality has also opened our kids up to some very real dangers like cyberbullying and predatory stalking, dangers that didn’t exist just a decade or two ago.

Bullying, sadly, is part of childhood. There have been bullies for as long as there have been children. But bullying now reaches far beyond physical intimidation and verbal taunting at school. Online bullying via social media is epidemic in our society today, and the repercussions for its victims can run the gamut from falling grades and social withdrawal to self-harm and even suicide.

The combination of teens and social media also has given rise to predatory stalking by pedophiles. Teens and tweens can be lured into online relationships with adults who prey on kids’ inherent vulnerabilities by paying attention to them and making them feel “special.” All too often, what begins as a virtual relationship online can turn very real and very scary when the predator arranges to meet the child in person.

Preventing these dangers should be job-number one for every parent who has an Internet-connected child. And that job starts with careful observation and continual awareness. As a parent, you must know what apps your kids have on their devices and what websites they visit, and then prevent them from downloading dangerous apps and visiting dangerous websites.

Teaching Activity

Check the Apps

As mentioned earlier, you need to know how your kids are communicating online. This means having around-the-clock access to their computers and mobile devices. If they refuse, you have the power and authority to take any device away. While they live under your roof, they are subject to your rules and must abide by them or lose their technology privileges.

During your check, look for mobile devices for dating and “flirting” apps such as Tinder and Blendr. Also look for text and video chatting apps like Yik Yak, Omegle and Kik Messenger, which can be used for sexting purposes. Other social media apps to watch out for include Whisper and, which are hotspots of teasing, taunting and other forms of cyberbullying. You should also be aware of apps such as Poof, which can hide other apps on your kids’ phones and tablets.

If you find these or other potentially dangerous or inappropriate apps or online connections, do some research on how to remove or block them, then take the necessary actions to do so. Once they’re gone, explain to your children why you removed or blocked these apps and connections and tell them not to load new ones onto their phone or other devices without consulting you first.

Apps come and go quickly. Old ones shut down as new ones pop up. As a parent, it’s your job to stay on top of what’s going on in the technology and mobile app landscape. If you have questions, you can call the Boys Town National Hotline® at (800) 448-3000.

Social Skills

Making Decisions

This is a basic social skill that is applicable in myriad situations, but it is especially crucial for kids when they are communicating online. Before your child opens a website, downloads an app or decides to begin a conversation with someone online, they need to take the following steps:

  • Accurately identify what decision you must make.
  • Examine your current choices.
  • If necessary, generate other choices.
  • Look at the potential consequences (positive and negative) of each choice.
  • Pick and follow the first- or second-best choices, based on their potential positive outcomes.

Coming up in Issue 4

The Benefits of Technology for ​Tweens and Teens


Using Technology to Learn


Concentrating on a Subject or Task

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