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Michelle Renee Headshot

Parents, Are Your Kids Duping You?

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If you have never checked your kid's cell phone messages, history or voicemail, or internet history, you should. In this technologically advanced time, kids are catching on to the tricks and clicks that erase their communication tracks.

When spouses are cheating or engaging in behaviors that they do not want anyone to find out about, what do they do? They erase phone calls, emails, text messages and begin to stay away from home longer than they had previously. Kid's behavior, if you are paying attention, that are doing things they don't want parents to find out about looks frighteningly like a cheating spouse.

Call me RoboCop, Inspector Gadget, or an over-protective mom, but I am all about snapping up my daughter's phone when she least expects it to take a peek at her text history or log onto her MySpace to be sure the conversations and content she has, and others she is communicating with, is appropriate. I recently read some statistics that back up my choice to to be pro-active on a regular basis.

A recent study shows that 30 percent of children between the ages of 9 and 18 delete the search history from their browsers in an attempt to protect their privacy from their parents. Kids are smart and in many cases, much more Internet savvy than their parents. Kids go online at a friend's house (this is how my daughter set up her first MySpace that I stumbled on), an Internet cafe, or school.

Many kids accidentally or unintentionally access dangerous material online outside of the home. In these cases they will be unprepared to deal with the emotions that follow, including feeling as though they may have done something wrong, something bad and not tell their parents for fear of being punished.

The biggest problem facing parents, and the media, is that they, for the most part, are in denial. Parents are not as Internet savvy, kid tricks for duping them literate as they could be. They don't have a handle on using popular online software and chat programs, and tend to have no clue about what is really happening online or on their kid's cell phones.

This lack of awareness or "head in the sand" attitude on the parents' part may be no different than the situation before the technological explosion we know as the Web. Parents that chose not to know what their kids were doing before the infusion of the Internet were at greater risk of their children getting into trouble or put themselves in harm's way without even knowing it. The same holds true for parents of the Internet generation who choose to not know what is going on with their kids on their tech devices.

The old, "but it's my room" has been replaced by "it's my phone" or "my computer". Well, I say whomever is paying the bill is the rightful owner. Therefore, you have every right to take a stand for your kid's safety or emotional well being and take their phone for 5 minutes or butt right in while they are online, especially when they are instant messaging. Make sure they don't "suddenly sign off" when you enter the room. If they do, think red flag and sign back in to see where the conversation left off. If you notice your kids cell phone is always void of Any text messages, again, think red flag and let them know you will be checking their text messages on a weekly basis. If they are erased, they lose their "privilege" of having the phone at all.

Be your kids' hero by taking a stand for their well-being. Heck, you may even want to take their phone for the day and see what kid's of texts come through. Yes, I have done that too and believe me, it was shocking, heartbreaking and a great opportunity for me to do what was right for my daughter in terms of getting her back on track and teaching her how to respond to inappropriate text messages and the importance of expressing self-esteem in every area of life, even online or over the phone.

For tips, software and education related to online safety, visit www.Children'sEducationalNetwork.com or www.TUKI.com. Kids can also join Club TUKI at www.clubTUKI.com and play fun, educational games, learn about online safety while earning TUKI Moola and even bid on auction items as a "Primo" Club TUKI Member.

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