Is There A Dark Stranger Lurking In Your Athletes Sweat Jacket ?

This article was originally posted about a year ago and since then this topic has become even more interesting and needed. We are handing the WORLD to our children and expecting them to understand the details of a world they are  just beginning to understand as they growing toward maturity. I thought it was important to  allow those not as frequent visitors to  read for the first time here, the over view on our youth athletes and the “World In Side Their Pockets”

Possibly YES.. Our kids are connecting on internet, cell phones and using , texting,face book, twitter,instagram and others . They send pictures, they download to and upload  from it. They watch the world on it. They listen to it. They play games on it. They surf on it. They converse with it. And yes can get into a world of trouble and pain with it.

The biggest question is DO WE AS PARENTS  KNOW  HOW TO MONITOR IT?  It is hard to keep up with the ever growing rapid changes happenings  in this virtual technological age we find ourselves and our kids in today.

It’s crucial that we do what you can to keep them safe, and just as important teach them the long range ramifications of short range desires and immature choices for “fun and pleasure”. The question, Is at what expense will your child use these devices? For good or for harm they can’t even imagine.

The reason I am writing about this topic today is I spoke to a coach that is ready to kick every girl he coaches (He only coaches girls 14 and older ) if they don’t  turn off their Facebook account an a host of other devices and applications that not only are interfering with the girls focus in school, the track but  also  family/friend interactions maybe if not used wisely their futures. They just can’t see the broader picture of worldwide socialization and that is where you and I come in. As this topics relates to track and field you don’t want the drama of the texts etc ,interfering with competition performance,training well you get the point.

Lauren doesn’t have a cell phone yet and no Facebook accounts or ,Twitter access but she is looking very much forward to the day like many of her team mates and school friends to have these coveted must haves. So I am very interested on how to manage these” new” devices she will get in the next few years.

This is  the first post of a multi-numbered post on the dangers of the internet, cellphones, ipods, ipad’s etc, and how we can help our kids to use these wonderful devices to enhance our lives not detract or derail future opportunities because of current teenage lack of perspective


 Did You Know?

  • Kids who are educated in the importance of online safety are more likely to take steps to keep themselves safe online than kids who aren’t educated.1
  • One out of five teenagers use their cell phones to go online.2Of those who do, one out of five say their parents don’t know that they do this.3
  • One half of all teenagers post their real age on social networking sites.4 Two out of five post the name of the city where they live.5
  • While 25 percent of 13- to 15-year-olds think it’s unsafe to post personal stuff online, only 14 percent of 16- to 18-year-olds feel the same way.7
  • Two out of five teenagers are exposed to pornography online.8
  • Two out of three teenagers say that cyberbullying is a serious problem.10 One out of three say that online bullying is worse than being bullied in person.11

Where do  I  begin??

This is a very important and relevant question just where do we begin to understand just what it is that teens are into and how to begin a meaningful conversation A very large part of the problem with parenting children that are fluent in the technology of today is that we parents are still learning the lay of the land and are always feeling a little behind the  techno curve .

The Internet Safety Project  is a website that offers simple and straightforward information about the internet and technology. Its like the Wikipedia for internet safety. Its clear and unbiased, and a great resource for parents, kids, and educators.

In the article 15 Things You Can Do To Make Sure Your Child Has a Safer Internet Experience  Mary Kay Hoal outlines some great beginning points for  parents that are interested in helping kids mature responsibly on the various media opportunities they  have at their disposal. I highlighted this insightful article read the full article  from the above article link above

Remember…. Be consistent no matter what the age in the conversation about internet use don’t stop the dialog.


For the younger children – 12 and under:
1 – Create separate user accounts for each child on the home computer.
2 – Enable strict content filtering on the computer.
3 – Install anti-virus, malware software, etc.
4 – Establish a select list of sites they’re allowed to visit. (We talk about the sites they want to visit, spend time on them together, and then I go through the sites and click through as deep as I can to understand the site content, culture, links, and ads, if they have them.) If I think they’re okay, then they’re added to the list.
5 – Enable YouTube Safe Mode on all web browsers (no matter what the age of user). Remember, you have to enable the safe mode per child, per account set up.
6 – Set time limits on computer use just as you would with TV or video games.
7 – Restrict online gaming (unless you play directly with your child and know the other people in real life.) So that means no Xbox Live premium membership or playing games on the Wii connected to the Internet.
8 – Use Google SafeSearch as their search engine (no matter what the age of the user)
9 – Use third party monitoring software that flags/detects any concerning phrases or words.
10 – Talk to your kids about what you learn/know is going on related to kids and technology (We talk about cyberbullying, sexting, kids being mean to others. Ask them what they think, what they’d do so you will have listened and learned. Then provide your advice. Practice role playing with your kids.
11 – Teach your kids what to do if someone isn’t nice to them online: “don’t respond, tell your mom, make a copy”.
12 – Teach your kids about the importance of not sharing their personal information online. (last name, school, phone number combined with address)
13 – Talk to your children about the importance of being kind & respectful to others online.
14 – If your child has a cell phone, the rules are: open cell phone policy; phones stored at night. Add a service like “Smart Limits” from AT&T, which makes it easier for your children to follow your rules (i.e. you can turn the cell phone off at night, during class, etc.). Preferable cell phone for kids 12 and under = non-smart phone.
15 – If your child doesn’t follow your rules, make sure there are consequences. Technology is a privilege, not a right. Have your children help pay for services such as their cell phone or memberships to special sites. They learn to appreciate what they have.


Children ages 13 – 17:

- The list of select sites allowed to visit will expand. As kids get older, particularly in high school where they need to access lots of sites for homework, it’s really hard to keep the list of sites to a select few. You’ll know when your child’s homework requires that access to information be increased.
- As the list of sites your teen is exposed to increases, check the browsing history and be sure to go 5 – 10 pages deep within the site. Often what’s behind the home page is different. Know the content, culture and people your child is exposed to.
- Know your children’s friends on the social network they belong to. It’s important to delete anyone they don’t know in real life.
- Know their password, log into their account. If applicable, be their “friend” on the network.
- Do not allow your child to provide websites with their personal information. This is usually requested by adult-intended networks like Facebook (i.e. first name + last name+ DOB + school+ cell phone + exact physical location + IM + email.) While a birth date and email may be needed to sign up, it shouldn’t be displayed.
- Do not allow your child to use the applications that allow a third party to access all their information. Read those Terms of Use policies. Talk to your kids about why they shouldn’t. Ask if they’d ever give their photos, friend contact information etc. out to strangers. They wouldn’t. You wouldn’t.
- Disable Facebook Places and photo geo-tagging.
- Talk to your kids about the photos they post. Ask them what impression a photo they post gives another person that may or may not know them. It’s a good way to open up dialogue and to help them think beyond the moment or tomorrow.
- Sign up for Google Alerts with your children’s names.

I know for those just exploring the topic this is a lot to digest. It is tough to do it all but start  with a few talking points and then like I said earlier just keep the dialog going…


Photo Credit  InfoSecInstitute


1. Dian Schaffhauser, “Teens’ Online Safety Improved by Education, Research Shows,” The Journal (2008),….

2. Kim Thomas, “Teen Online & Wireless Safety Survey: Cyberbullying, Sexting, and Parental Controls,” Cox Communications (2009),…

3. Ibid.

4. Ibid., 18.

5. Ibid.



Until Next Time


  1. Alexander Hill says:

    How can I say “YOU ARE A BLESSING” … without having said it all. Thank you!

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