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Thursday, May 25, 2017

Advice for the Class of 2017

It's hard to believe that another school year is quickly coming to a close.  It is an especially exciting time for our 30 seniors, The University Lake School Class of 2017.  These bright-eyed and ambitious young adults have completed their courses, taken exams, played sports, acted on stage, rocked the ACT and applied to fantastic colleges.  They are now on their way to collegiate experiences.  Oh boy! As graduation approaches our students' excitement is insatiable and our parents are shedding a few tears, it seems appropriate to share a few words of wisdom.  There is so much advice out there on-line, in print, from friends and relatives that I wanted to sift through all of this well meaning pontificating and find a few simple ideas that are practical and easy to digest amidst all of the graduation hoopla.  Ted Spiker, Chair of the Department of Journalism at the University of Florida, offers just this kind of practical advice.  Read through his "15 Tips for High School Graduates" below and share with your loved ones who are crossing the threshold into college life.

15 Tips For High School Graduates

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Cyber-Safety for Children

The topic of cyber-safety and our children evolves almost daily as new technology is introduced at an exponential rate.  Social media, internet searches, smart phones and on-demand viewing content are an everyday part of children's lives.  Here are a few cold hard facts relating to kids and cyber-space:

  • 1 in 4 teens have been the victims of cyberbullying.
  • 1 in 6 admit to having cyberbullied someone. 
  • In some studies, more than half of the teens surveyed said that they've experienced abuse through social and digital media.

Clearly the virtual world can be a wonderful educational tool but, it can be a place where tough lessons are learned if children have unlimited, unsupervised access to things they may not fully understand.
The following list can help you keep your children safe when they use social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, as well as mobile devices:
  • Make sure the protection features of websites and software your children use are activated. There are tools available through your Internet Service Provider (ISP) to help you manage your children's online experience (i.e. appropriate Websites, amount of time spent online, who can and cannot contact them). It might also include other security features, such as pop-up ad blockers.
  • Get to know the online environments your children use and teach them how to deal with inappropriate material.
  • Talk to them about the implications of posting inappropriate pictures, saying disparaging things about other people and anything else that could damage a reputation or ruin a friendship.
  • Remind them that the Internet is a public space. Things they do and say now on social media sites could have implications down the road.
  • Stay in the know about the latest ways children are communicating and what they are up to when they are at friends' houses.
  • Keep an eye on the sites they are visiting by keeping the computer in a common area like the kitchen.
  • Talk to other parents about their children's online privileges and what works for them.
  • Educate them about the risks of webcam use with people you or your children don't know. Video that is broadcast over the Internet is permanently out there and can be saved by anyone for later viewing or distribution. If your computer has been hacked, another user could remotely control your webcam, so if you have an external camera, unplug it or cover your camera when it is not in use.
  • If your child is using live text and voice chats for online games, warn them not to give personal information to a stranger.
  • Be careful about what you post about your children or activities related to them like the location of their school, or where you or they are volunteering.