Resources for Helping Kids Navigate Life Online

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On our latest podcast episode, Let’s Talk About Helping Kids Navigate Life Online, Kate Mann of the Oshkosh Police Department and Lindsey Loewe from Collaborative Wellness joined us to discuss the ins and outs of screen time, social media, and how our kids can safely navigate our very online world. We loved hearing their perspectives and we’re excited to share that conversation with you.

One thing that came up is that technology is constantly changing and at some point, our kids will likely lap us on our knowledge of what is what—hopefully, they wait until middle school at least. It is humbling to be schooled on Google Drive shortcuts by a six-year-old.

Keeping kids safe as new trends and online possibilities emerge is a job that extends beyond what sort of technology exists to solve the potential problems we’ve thought about. Don’t get us wrong, the tech can definitely help! Screen time parameters are much better at remembering that it has been an hour on Minecraft than we are at times. But, fostering an environment of open communication can help our kids to feel able to come to us if there is an issue that comes up online. Especially if one of those rails we’ve put in place through an app or device gives way. 

The strong relationship with honesty and trust that you create with your kids will leave a door open for when they experience something online that feels wrong to them. We work for this with their offline lives and we can extend that into their online lives.

Here are some local and online resources to help along the way!

Oshkosh Area Community Resources

  • Collaborative Wellness, 303 Watson Street, Suite D., Ripon
  • Oshkosh Police Department – Reach out to the School Resource Officers at our schools! They have a great pulse on what is current and trending with our kids.
    • Chee Vang, North High School
      • 920-236-5701,
    • Tony Flaig, West High School 
      • 920-236-5701,
    • Tracey Grubofski, Carl Traeger & Webster Stanley Middle School
      • 920-236-5701,
    • Deana Brandl, Perry Tipler & South Park Middle School
      • 920-236-5701,
    • Heather Brickham, Merrill Middle School
      • 920-236-5701,

Facebook Groups

  • Parenting in a Tech World – Active Private Facebook group managed by Bark, an app that can help with screen time management, web filtering, and monitoring for potential concerns. 

Online Resources

  • Parent Resources from Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction including online classes for parents, sample family media plans, tip sheets and more.
  • NetSmartz is an online safety education program. It provides age-appropriate videos and activities to help teach children be safer online with the goal of helping children to become more aware of potential online risks and empowering them to help prevent victimization by making safer choices on- and offline. 
  • Common Sense Media is an independent, nonprofit, research-based organization that supports parents and educators with expert reviews, objective advice, helpful tools, and more with technology.

Common Sense’s Parents’ Ultimate Guides can help keep you up to date and answer your questions about all the latest titles and trends including:

What are the warning signs? Things parents should look out for?

11 Social Media Red Flags Parents Should Know About
  • Cyberbullying
    • Name-calling
    • Threatening, blackmailing
    • Spreading rumors
    • Impersonating for mockery
    • Exclusion from peer groups
  • Online Predators
    • spending long hours online, especially at night
    • phone calls from people you don’t know
    • unsolicited gifts arriving in the mail
    • your child suddenly turning off the computer when you walk into the room
    • withdrawal from family life and reluctance to discuss online activities
  • Oversharing
  • Inappropriate Behavior
  • Codes & Emojis
    • DEA created this Emoji Drug Code Decoded fact sheet. This guide is intended to give a better sense of how emojis are used in conjunction w/ illegal drugs. Pay attention to your teen/loved ones & don’t be afraid to have the conversation if you suspect drug abuse is occurring. 

Speak Up, Speak Out 

When you, a friend, or the community needs help, you can make it happen. Speak up and speak out by reporting a tip! The Speak Up, Speak Out Resource Center will respond quickly and confidentially to make sure we can get help to you or to someone who is hurting, struggling, or in danger.

Having discussions with your kids can help them identify and avoid unsafe situations online with a heightened awareness of internet safety and help build critical thinking and decision-making skills relating to online safety. We have found that talking it out is often more effective than laying out rules. We also shared some tips on how to get sharted including scripts with Family Talks: Helping Kids Navigate Online Life.

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