Over the past months, I’ve been working with former NCIS Special Agent, Heather Ryan, to put together a program for parents that will empower them to protect their kids (both physically and online) and coach their children to use social media productively.
As two moms with very different backgrounds – mine as the CEO of a social media company and Heather’s as a former NCIS special agent who spent 14 years capturing, interrogating and locking up child and cyber predators – we decided to combine our expertise to create a powerful series of videos for parents.
Heather knows how bad guys think, who they target, and how they lure their victims- both in person and online. Lucky for us, she’s has taken this knowledge and translated it to teach people how to avoid becoming the next victim. She knows how to coach parents and tweens/teens to use practical and effective ways to get off of a bad guy’s radar or to escape a potentially dangerous situation. I know this- I’ve taken her classes with my teenage daughters.
In my role, I’m well acquainted with the social media platforms kids use, and new ones emerge seemingly constantly. I speak to a lot of parents, as well as tweens and teens. Parents today (like me) didn’t grow up with social media- it didn’t exist. We can’t pick up the phone and call our own parents to find out how they handled a ‘virtual’ situation. The social landscape has changed to present a powerful opportunity for those able to demonstrate the maturity required. For those allowed to roam the virtual social world unsupervised, there are risks both to a child’s safety as well as to his or her future.
Numbers don’t lie.
- 92% of teens go online daily- 24% report going online almost constantly*.
- 71% of teens use more than one social networking site*.
- 73% of teens have access to a smartphone*.
- 71% of teens have access to a game console*.
*These statistics are from the Pew Research Center’s ‘Teens, Social Media & Technology Overview 2015’.
- In 82% of online sex crimes against minors, the offender used the victim’s social networking site to gain information about the victim’s likes and dislikes**.
- 26% of online sex offenders used the victim’s social networking site to gain information about the victim’s whereabouts at a specific time**.
**These statistics are from internetsafety101.org.
It’s on us as parents to get ahead of this.
To take the reigns, set limits, establish agreements and expectations with regard to online interaction, and also to know what our kids are doing online, where they are going, how to find them, and how to coach them. This is new ground for us- the parents of today’s generation of digital kids.
As a mom of 2 teenage daughters, my passion lies in helping other parents learn both how to keeps their kids safe from online predators as well as how to guide their kids to build a productive online presence that will impress colleges, scholarship committees, and potential employers.
And, as a mom of those 2 teenage daughters, I need peace of mind that they will be safe when stopping at night to fill up the gas tank, going out with friends, walking across campus, walking to the car in a dark parking lot, or going for a jog. Like lots of other parents, I thought pepper spray would be a logical way to help them protect themselves…until we found out from Heather that I was telling them (and doing) everything wrong.
One family at a time, we are committed to empowering families and preventing victims through Get Safe Academy. Join us HERE to download a FREE E-Book for parents and to get access to 3 free videos coming out late January 2016.