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From Behind the Badge - With benefits come perils in childrens use of technology

Technology: unarguably one of the best and worst things that’s ever happened to us. We use it for everything from navigating the high seas to exchanging data via orbiting satellites. In our every-day lives, we rely on it to stay connected – sometimes too connected.

Williamson County: unarguably one of the greatest, and most desirable locations in Tennessee – quite possibly the nation. People and corporations from Los Angeles to Massachusetts have chosen this area to grow their families and their businesses. Top-notch schools are most always a topic of conversations about Williamson County.

Bringing together two greats: the area and our use of technology this year with Williamson County Schools’ BYOT, or Bring Your Own Technology, was met with support from educators, parents, and of course – kids. The progressive move, though, has come with some understandable unease for parents. When parallel youth with their use of technology, parental worries include two trepidations: device theft and the exploitation of kids.

A Franklin mom to a 10 and 15-year-old, Ashley Webster recently wrote:

As you probably know, Williamson County Schools launched "Bring Your Own Technology" this year. This means cell phones, iPods, laptops, netbooks, etc. are being brought to school in larger numbers. Does the police department have tips for parents on how to be prepared and what to do if the device is stolen?

Thanks for writing Ashley, here’s my best advice: While password protected screen locks might help to prevent someone from accessing the information in your device, it’s certainly not an effective deterrent from getting it stolen or something that would aid in its recovery. There are apps available for Android and Apple devices that allow owners to remotely lock stolen or missing devices, sound an audible alarm, wipe, and even track them. There are a few options to choose from so checking into each of them along with user reviews will help to ensure a good fit. Similar programs are commercially available for laptop computers; a trip to a computer store or chat with a Geek Squad guy will help parents understand their options.

Recording the serial number to everything you own is a great idea. A digital photograph, stored in a secure location is a quick way to help accomplish this. Engraving your driver’s license number, along with the two-letter state code, like TN, will help reunite lost or stolen property that police encounter with its rightful owner.

The only real way to ensure that your stuff stays yours is to be smart: (1) never leave your valuables unattended at the gym, in a coffee shop – or anywhere else, even for a minute; (2) never leave valuables in plain view in your parked car, even when in front of your own home or in your driveway.

Markedly more important than protecting your tech-tools is protecting your kids who use them. Statistics show that one in three girls and one in six boys are sexually abused by the time they’re 18. One out of seven children receives an online sexual solicitation or approach on the Internet. At an Internet safety seminar at my church, I recently addressed a sanctuary filled with parents looking for advice on how to do just that. Here are a few of the highlights from that presentation:

1. Get and stay in your kids’ business. Giving them their privacy will not keep your children safe.

2. Do not allow children to use their technology behind closed doors.

3. Set up parental controls available through your ISP.

4. Buy and install a parental monitoring program on your child’s device.

5. Routinely read your child’s sent and received e-mail and social media sites.

6. Talk frankly with your children about appropriate on-line activity, and enforce strict consequences when the rules are broken.

For more tips on how to keep your kids safe online and ideas on how to start a conversation with them about Internet safety, visit www.netsmartz.org, and click on Parents & Guardians.

 

From Behind the Badge,

Lieutenant Charles Warner

In his 13 years of service to the Franklin Police Department, Lt. Warner’s assignments have included Patrol Officer, Detective, Internet Crimes Against Children Investigator, FBI Task Force Officer, Sergeant, and Lieutenant. Lt. Warner manages the Department’s 911 Center and Office of Public Affairs. He can be reached at cwarner@franklintn.gov.

 

Posted on: 9/26/2012

 
 

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