Saturday, February 21, 2009

Is it time for "the talk"?

When I was growing up, "the talk" had something to do with birds and bees. Yeah, you know the routine--Mom or Dad fumbling over their words while you sit with your eyes on the floor (or anything but your parent for that matter) and pretend like you didn't just hear them say sex for the third time! Yeah, it makes me a little queasy thinking about it too.
And now, years later, I'm the parent and I often think about how I'm going to be in this very same situation one day. But is this the only talk I need to have with my daughter? Absolutely not. In today's world of the internet at your fingertips, there is yet one more "talk" you need to have with your children. I'll be referring to this one as the "Web talk". The web talk is just as important as the sex talk and for many good reasons.
Children today are growing up in a world where chatting online is more common that talking on the phone. They're sharing anything and everything about themselves without considering the possible consequences. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children states that 1 in 7 youth aged 10-17 experience a sexual solicitation or approach while online. This information alone is enough for many parents to ban the internet in their house. Banning the internet, however, will work about as well as what you want to ban in that other "talk" mentioned earlier. That in mind, though, it is important not to ignore this information. Parents need to take the time to explain to children what the internet can bring and prepare them for situations that may arise. Do your children know what to do if someone approaches them online? Don't ever assume that they do. They may know how to use the internet, but knowing how to safely use the internet is what is important.
There are many internet safety sites available to parents. I like the information provided by the National Center for missing and Exploited Children and encourage parents to check it out now!

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