By Polly Keary, Editor
The internet can be a dangerous place for kids.
But savvy parents can help kids use the internet safely, says Seattle attorney and online safety expert Charles Leitch.
On Wednesday of next week, he will lead a seminar called “How to Protect when Young People Connect,” on how to help kids navigate the net without exposing themselves to harm.
“It’s about the responsible use of technology in the context of teaching kids, students, teens and youth how to make good decisions,” he said. “I try to educate parents and school staff on the risks kids realistically face, and dispel some of the misconceptions that rise out of things like social media and camera phones.”
Leitch started out about six years ago advising schools on legal requirements associated with technology use, but soon got so many requests for information from people dealing with issues of bullying and abuse of technology that he started training people on how to handle the internet safely.
Since then, he has traveled all over the world giving seminars.
A large part of what he teaches kids is how to resist peer pressure when it comes to doing dumb things online.
One mistake parents often make is giving their children communication devices that are more sophisticated than kids need.
“Giving a kid a really high-tech phone is like giving a beginning driver a Ferrari,” he said.
Before giving a kid too much access to electronic media, it’s best to learn how to supervise and regulate kids’ usage.
“There are ways to communicate credibly without being standoffish, or so extreme kids won’t listen,” he said.
Leitch also talks about what kids who are targeted by online bullying should do.
And he talks about how to keep from angering or hurting others online, intentionally or otherwise, as well as about the legal liabilities of schools when bullying spills over into the academic environment.
The talk is about an hour and a half long, and afterward there will be time for questions.
The event takes place at the Monroe High School Performing Arts Center at 17001 Tester Rd. in Monroe at 7 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 13. Refreshments and childcare will be provided.