So we launched our "stop cyberbullying" awareness building campaign two weeks ago now- last week, as we had been told from many sources it was near impossible to get parents, concerned with proactively protecting their children online, into a room to talk about issues such as cyber bullying, the digital divide and digital rights online- I decided to give it a crack myself. After the stress, simplification and difficulty of trying to fit the impossible amount of concern & content into like a 45 min time frame - I too have come to the conclusion that regardless of how you package or market this to parents at the moment, the simple barieer of struggling to get the parents in the room in the first place is not worth my primary efforts in overcoming these kinds of issues at this stage and that the delivery of content and guidance to parents when it comes to their kids online, is best delivered there also.
To sum up our primary message to parents was that they not continue to "take away the toys" as an approach to issues their children may face online as this is making the problem worse. We had the emphasis on parents making sure they approach these issues about the online world with thier kids the same way they would with offline issues. We suggested following the "3E's" of Educate (the parent inform themselves of these technologies but the kids of the dangers & risks to them and others from their conduct or content online), Engage (interact with your kids on their level in concern to these technologies, get them to teach or show you what they are doing, talk about how they use technology and the internet already) and Empower (Lee Chisholm, from Netsafe put it best when she said, "just like teaching them to drive a car, at some point your going to have to hand over the keys". Encourage and excite your children to the possibilities in their lives rather than overwhelming them with opportunity & following that with trepidation).
We suggested parents could be do this in various ways depending on the age of their children... In fact, we could be blamed for overloading parents ourselves with the range of different options and answers available out there once you have them concerned enough to take a proactive interest... Netsafe have a range of valuable and under utilized sites and services out there for anyone willing to take a proactive stance on the kind of issues; In My Day (http://www.inmyday.org.nz/) is must see for any parents out there, but it is also worth mention of their cyberbullying site (http://www.cyberbullying.org.nz/), ICT policy generating service for businesses on the site The What's It (http://www.thewhatsit.co.nz/) and the reporting service for online crimes The Orb (http://www.theorb.org.nz/)- just a few of those available through their main site - http://www.netsafe.org.nz/. The packs we made for attending parents had the brochure which outlines each of these sites and services from Netsafe as just one of the many options available to them that we had found freely available ourselves.
We also greatly appreciated the input and work of Jennifer Shore from Compulink who made contact with us over Twitter. had compiled her weekly "Family Safety Series" updates for parents into a manual for our attending parents on the workshop.