Workshops address children's key issues
Some parents were aghast recently to discover online predators can geotrack locations where their children are from pictures posted on Facebook.
This fact and others were shared with 50 New Milford parents attending Parents University at Schaghticoke Middle School.
The workshops were sponsored by the New Milford Youth Agency, paid via a grant from the Housatonic Valley Coalition Against Substance Abuse.
Sixteen workshops were offered, including "Parenting with Positive Discipline," "Raising a Good Digital Citizen" and "Drugs/Alcohol, Your Teen and You."
"One of the great things is, the grant allows parents to attend these workshops for free," said Laura Cleary, a Youth Agency education counselor. "This is our second year of holding Parents University.
"We got great feedback from the first one," Cleary added. "Our presenters are people who have participated in other Parents Universities around this area."
Kelly Mullen, the education outreach manager for the Women's Center of Greater Danbury, explained how to help children use technology safely during the "Raising a Good Digital Citizen" workshop.
"There are 50,000 predators online at any given time," Mullen said. "We need to help our children understand that and to recognize the warning signs when engaged online."
Children entering chatrooms are particularly vulnerable, she said, adding video chats are also problematic. Predators can hack into a video chat, then have access to view a child's bedroom through the camera, even when offline, she said.
She noted that parents can help protect their children by establishing rules for computer use and monitoring that use, contacting their cellphone carrier to have real-time access to text messages a child is receiving, have geocoding disabled on cellphones and computers, and covering webcams when not in use.
New Milford mother Stacie Kwas attended the morning sessions, then decided to stay for the afternoon presentations.
"They're very informative," she said. "I didn't know what to expect. My children are 6 and 8, on the early stages of any of this. I wanted to educate myself to be the best parent I can be. This is really fantastic."
For more information, call the New Milford Youth Agency at 860-354-0047.