Keeping up with your kids nowadays could be a Herculean task for most. Even in today’s digitally inclusive environment, children have a bigger appetite than parents for consuming and internalising digital trends and content. And there’s no limit to information, news and snippets of general interest out in the internet. It is an ever-ending churn of messages and points-of-view that are spewed out online every day; some of which attain viral fame while most reach their niche audience. Children are exposed to a torrent of ideas constantly, and it is hard for parents to keep abreast of this exposure and realise the impacts on their kids’ psyche. Parents are at an essential disadvantage in this war of information. They lack the time or energy to stay on top of the deluge of content their children access everyday and perhaps try out or imitate. You could probably laugh off your kids trying out a Mannequin Challenge or inadvertently crossing state borders in search of Pokemons. But what if your kids, egged on by peer pressure and FOMO (fear of missing out), engaged in dangerous and hazardous activities popularised by the internet?
That’s the question that stumped John Michels as he followed in horror the “Slender Man” trials. How can parents bridge this information divide to ensure the safety of their kids? John teamed up with techie Tim Sabens to found CarefulParents.com, a community for parents run by parents towards promoting overall child safety. Who better to turn to for advice and heads-ups than other parents? Surely your typical teen is not going to be an open book, so CarefulParents educates thousands of parents through alerts by member-parents about the world, preferences and priorities of their teenagers. Parents can create alerts about drug abuse, cyber bullying, slang terms, harmful teen trends, harmful apps and a host of other topics. The idea is to create a resource that would help parents be proactive enough to notice unhealthy behaviour and take timely action.
CarefulParents deals with everyday issues and problems of a modern family living in a connected world. One CarefulParents alert breaks down commonly used sexting codes that seem inane enough to be dismissed as gibberish: PAL stands for Parents Are Listening, GNOC stands for Get Naked On Cam, and TDTM stands for Talk Dirty To Me. Teens are not always the best judge of their actions, and the express purpose of such lingos is to maintain secrecy! If you notice such behaviour it is a potential sign for possible trouble. Another alert highlights how hashtags are misused to stay off content safety radars while secretly glorifying a culture of self-harm, destructive behaviour and depression!
Signing up for CarefulParents is easy and most importantly free. The founders realised the importance of their movement and expressly kept it out of commercial interests. Parents can also tune into CarefulParents news on Facebook and Twitter. Join now and share some tips for other parents or read about unique experiences that might help you learn more about your children and their digital lives!