New technologies mean new responsibility for adults who care for children, and one school district has taken on the task of helping parents be connected to kids’ online lives.

It can be difficult for parents to involve themselves with a child’s online footprint, especially if they are unfamiliar with the Internet or don’t know or understand what their child does online.  It’s important to monitor a child’s activity online, but many parents aren’t sure how to do that, or are unaware of special issues confronting their children, such as cyber bullying or privacy problems.

Helping Parents Be Connected to Kids' Online Lives

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Hanover County Public Schools now offers a workshop for parents.  Connecting Families: Helping Parents Connect with their Children’s Digital Lives is a support and resource for parents needing to learn about technology and internet safety.  “It is also our hope to continue to build strong school home partnerships through workshops and events like this one,” says Debbie Arco, director of curriculum and instruction for HCPS.

The program enables parents to view the child’s online footprint of what sites they visit.

“We talk about a digital footprint as a record of everything an individual does online, including the content they upload,” Arco said. “All of your actions online — and all of the content that you share or others share about you — creates your digital footprint.”

Parents learn that they need to ensure that kids are using online resources properly, as the records can last for years.

Helping Parents Be Connected to Kids' Online Lives

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“Online information can migrate, persist and resurface years later,” Arco said.

The program supports families in the goal of raising children capable of critical thinking and online ethical behavior.

Workshops focus on individual areas as regards online behavior.  Conversation Cases are supplied to parents, focusing on specific areas of concern such as cyberbullying, digital drama, privacy, disclosure, and multitasking.

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