Updated: Sep 4, 2020
In every generation, there are different kinds of challenges that parents and families are faced with. These times are certainly no different -so how do we as parents keep our kids safe? In episode 11 of “One Day You’ll Thank Me”, my teen co-host Anna and I had a very informative interview with Larry Forletta. Larry is a former DEA agent and private investigator and has had extensive experience in issues dealing with families and safety.
The focus of our time with Larry was to learn how to best support our kids and keep them safe in this chaotic world, by having a high quality relationship with them. He feels that the key to success is the family home. He begins by sharing the biggest issues that families face, is when the family structure is broken down- whether it is from the children being exposed to their parents illegal activities, such as selling drugs from the home, parents that are divorcing, domestic issues, or even just parents that work a lot and are not around. Often the child is observing a lot of bad behaviors in their life and doesn’t feel secure, is lacking consistency - they can find themselves getting caught up in bad behaviors themselves.
I fully agree and add that the role modeling of parents or caregivers is going to have a significant effect on the kids. It these kids do not have the structure and have consistent examples of good behaviors in their life, it may be hard for them to follow the rules of society, problem solve, and connect in healthy ways with other people.
Too the surprise of many people, it is important to note that this is happening everywhere, in poorer communities and the more affluent communities, it just might look differently. It is what is going on inside of that house that that can be problematic, not where the house is located.
Another major concern in our society for kids is safety around technology, particularly social media. Larry stresses that monitoring kids is of utmost importance. He shared a story of a mom that had been monitoring her teenage daughters' apps and found out she was unknowingly communicating with a sexual predator. This predator claimed to be her age and the daughter felt comfortable and believed this person enough, to share private things and be vulnerable with him. If it wasn’t for the mother monitoring her daughter’s social media and getting the authorities involved, it would have been a very different outcome.
Many times kids think they are being safe and only talking to people they know and think it is fun to get lots of ”followers” and post on SnapChat where they are, but they are not always making good decisions and need an adult to monitor what is going on and even more importantly educating these kids about how they may be putting themselves at risk unknowingly.
Anna shared that she has experience with friends that were talking on social media with a “cute boy” from another state that friended them. They had no idea who he was and if he was really who he says he was. They were not even thinking about any of the risks that they were taking.
And often when you ask kids if they think it is possible that the person they are communicating with may not be who they think it is - they usually think that it could happen, but not to them! Sometimes they try and justify it, if they are getting attention, or find they are understood by the other person, finally someone that gets them. They will be quick to dismiss any doubts, so it is important for parents to not just tell them about the risks, but really be taking notice.
It has been proven - knowing that a parent or adult is going to be checking their phone and other devices does make a significant difference. The best thing you can do is be involved. Here are some examples.
Ways to keep your kids safe:
1) Appropriate supervision
2) Be mindful of the apps that your kids are on
3) Be connected with ALL of their friends and the people who they associate with
4) Start utilizing the many tools that are available to parents now to monitor your kids cell phones and online presence
5) Make sure to educate your kids on the many risks out there today
Paying attention is the best thing you can do for your kids. It is extremely important to be on top of bad behaviors and help your child to see how the decisions they have made affect them and others, and how to do better next time. It is tempting to downplay or ignore bad behaviors and hope they go away, but you are only asking for bigger problems down the road. There needs to be appropriate disciplining and discussions.
I was curious about Larry's take on how video games influence behavior in kids. He feels as do I, most of the video games out there today have to do with violence and affect some children differently than others. Video games can lead to violent behaviors, they definitely tend to desensitizing kids to a degree, you can hear as they are playing games like FortNite... “shoot em” “yea, he’s dead”, many of them are very graphic representations of people getting shot and killed. Not every kid will react to them in the same and may have no problems at all. It is our point to just be alert to the possible effects. I do want to note that those kids with anxiety disorders, Autism, ADHD tend to be more vulnerable to developing a dependency on technology, prone to obsessive thinking about it and to disconnect from the family.
Learn how to stay CONNECTED with your kids, know who their all their friends are, who they are communicating with, what is going on in their life, so that they know you are there and involved. Keep your eyes open for the red flags that we shared in the article and on the podcast.
Do not hesitate to go to the school or have your kids go to their resource officer if they see, hear, or notice anything that seems to be off or they feel uncomfortable about.
To learn more on what Larry shared, click here
To learn more about Larry, visit his website: https://fcisllc.com/
This episode is sponsored by Sparent, a company that "helps ambitious women create time to grow their amazing companies." Book your discovery call HERE to find out more. Mention this podcast episode and get one free hour of service.
To learn more about Dr. Egan's online mini-course called "Managing Your Family's Technology and Social Media", created to help parents eliminate power struggles, keep your family safe from internet misuse, and reconnect with your family, please click RIGHT HERE.
If you'd like to try BARK, a dashboard that monitors content on your child's technological devices, please use the code QSG7JBW to get 20% off. If you'd like to try Circle Home Plus to set guidelines around when and where your kids spend their online screen time, use THIS LINK to get $20 off. I use both of these tools to protect my children.
To learn more about Dr. Tara Egan, visit www.drtaraegan.com
To learn more about Dr. Tara Egan's private therapy practice, visit www.charlotteparentcoaching.com