With tech, what parents don't know can hurt kids

Posted at 1:11 AM, Feb 19, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-19 01:12:13-05

ANDERSON TOWNSHIP, Ohio -- With smartphones and web access at their fingertips, kids' and teens' access today is unprecedented.

And because everything recorded on their devices can live forever online, parents were warned Thursday night to know everything about their children's digital lives.

About 100 parents went to an educational session at Nagel Middle School to learn, straight from the experts, what they can do to keep up in an online world that sometimes seems foreign. Stephen Smith, director of Educational Leadership for Cincinnati Bell, said the first step is ensuring parents own the passwords to their kids' Google Play or iTunes account.

"If they do that, they begin to minimize the types of apps a child can download onto a device, and in fact, a child should not be able to download any apps onto that device," he said.

Amy Miller, mother to a fifth- and seventh-grader at Nagel, said she works with her kids on social media.

"What I am currently working on with my boys is what they can be tagged in," Miller said. "An Instagram picture gets posted and someone just tags you, you are now part of that."

Jodi Carr has kids in the seventh and eighth grades. She wonders, she said, why parents rush to give their kids a smartphone at all when they're so young.

"Why aren't we waiting until they are 16, 17, when they can really understand the dangers or repercussions of sending things they shouldn't be sending?" Carr said.

The first step to success, Smith said, is talking -- "talking to your children, it's talking to their friends, it's talking with the parents of the friends of your children."

Earlier Thursday, well before the meeting at Nagel, officials in another district sent a letter to parents about "concerns with inappropriate use of Instagram" involving sixth-graders. The letter, from Mason Intermediate Principal Greg Sears, said that an "account was created by an unknown individual with the purpose of spreading gossip, rumors, and negative comments." Sears said the school was working with students on strategies to combat with the problem.

"Our message to the students is to not engage anyone they don’t know personally, block users from their account, delete users and not contribute to negative posts," Sears' message said.

Click here for information parents should know about social media, including many apps kids may use.