Yesterday I purchased Outsmarting Your Kids Online: A Safety Handbook For Overwhelmed Parents by Amber Mac and Michael Bazzell.
I couldn't put it down, and I finished it before I went to bed.
Here's why I think this book should be required reading for all parents:
- It is SO thorough. There are chapters devoted to all of the most popular platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc., as well as online video and mobile apps.
- It provides info you won't get anywhere else. I consider myself moderately tech-savvy, but even I was blown away by all the great back-door methods for finding someone's profile on a social media site (because yes, lots of our children will create profiles they don't want us to see).
- It provides the right balance of parental fear (the horror stories of Rehtaeh Parsons and Amanda Todd) and encouragement (including all of the amazing benefits of screens for kids - with some great fun and educational app recommendations)
- It applies from preschool through the teen years (and while preschoolers likely aren't hiding Instagram accounts from us, parents of preschoolers are at the perfect phase to get ahead, and stay ahead of the Internet game)
- It embraces practical and flexible - not radical or judgmental - parenting philosophies and advice: how much to trust your kids, how much to spy, how much screen time kids should have, etc. I especially love how they reference author Lisa Guernsey and her three Cs: Content (what's on the screen - educational games shouldn't be looked at the same as violent videos), Context (has your child been outside all day? are you on a road trip?) and Child (each one is different in terms of their reactions to and reasons for using screens - is she addicted? does a video help him relax?).
- It also provides a wealth of information that can also be helpful to teachers and administrators
A final reason I really love it:
- It includes lots of Canadian content. While Internet information really applies anywhere (it is called the www for a reason) and this handbook is just as helpful for American parents, the patriotic side of me always likes to see Canadian references included in my reading. (Come on, when watching a big TV show or movie you've had a "They just said 'Canada'!" moment too!)
I'm a longtime fan of Amber MacArthur, and know her best from all of her fantastic tech segments on The Marilyn Denis Show (okay, fine, when she followed me back on Twitter and Instagram I loved her even more), and her insights combined with Michael Bazzell's experience as a computer crime detective really provide comprehensive coverage of this huge topic.
The book has already sparked a great conversation with my ten year old, which ended like this:
Her: Actually, I don't think I really want an Instagram account yet anyway.
Her: Nah. I'm not that interested anymore. But I do want guinea pigs...
It's always something. (I think I'd prefer Instagram.)
To enter to win your own copy of Outsmarting Your Kids Online: A Safety Handbook For Overwhelmed Parents, you can do one or more of the following:
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Total number of possible entries is five, and the contest ends Sunday, May 29th at midnight, after which time I will choose a winner using random.org.