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Defensively Driving Social Media, What All Parents Should Know

So, you don’t need a social network monitoring service for your child? You trust the child you’ve raised, as you should. Don’t want them to think you’re looking over their shoulder every minute of the day. Makes sense to me. We’re parents not prison guards. Yet, is that really the wise position to take? What about everyone else that lives in this same crazy world of relationships on the Internet? Are you feeling as good about all of them? We’ve all the heard the horror stories in the news.

When my eldest was 15 it was time for her written drivers exam to obtain her drivers permit. We were all pretty excited. Her excitement came because she was eyeballing the liberation of providing her own transportation to her life events. I too was eyeballing liberation, NOT being the one to transport her to all the events.

First round she didn’t take her glasses so immediately failed her vision test. I found out later that this was on purpose! What? She didn’t think she was cute enough with them on. In the second round she didn’t fair too well either. Every time the computer screen flashed a wrong answer she freaked which made her get even more wrong answers. Third round…a repeat of the second.

By the fourth I was literally on my knees in the public restroom begging God to help her pass. As all parents of teenagers know when your teen is miserable they love to spread it around. Everyone was ready for this particular misery to end.

Thankfully, we drove away from the DMV that day thrilled that we were both finally headed toward liberation. She got behind the wheel to begin her foray into the world of drivers. I entered the world of one less thing on my to do list.

My daughter is grown now and since that day of liberation she has had 2 fender benders, one minor collision and totaled two cars. The crazy part is the only accidents that were her fault were the fender benders, which also happened to be in the driveway of our home!!!!

There were others drivers and circumstances on the road that I wish we had been warned about. Dangers to her I didn’t think about when I was on my knees praying for her to pass. Of course I had heard tales of horrific accident but, at the time, didn’t consider that it could happen to my family. Walking away from two totaled cars was nothing short of a miracle. Even though it was another’s fault, there was still a price paid by my girl, both in lost automobiles and rehabilitation of her beat up body.

If anyone had offered me a warning system that would let me know that careless drivers were within my daughter’s proximity, there wouldn’t have been anything holding me back from signing up? If there had been some means of communicating the danger ahead for my precious daughter, I would have been knocking down the door to get the tools I needed to divert trouble.

Like the roads my daughter drove, this amazing social media world that our children navigate, holds its own dangers. Like careless drivers on the road, there are people that traverse this world whose intention is to bring harm. From peers that can bully, to those that have much more nefarious intentions, they prey on the naïve and unsuspecting. So, this leads me to wonder why wouldn’t all parent’s sign up for a monitoring service like Zabra? My husband and I wouldn’t let our daughter drive without car insurance, yet we allow our kids to drive on the roads of social media without insurance, seatbelts and a good understanding of the “rules of the road.”

Thankfully, there are ways to divert trouble. Isn’t that reason enough? But what’s even greater about Zabra is that it recognizes that you know your child better than anyone. Parents understand where their child is vulnerable. Zabra enables you to act upon that understanding. You can choose how to protect. Not to overly shelter. Zabra gives you the opportunity to keep them from harm’s way while they are still learning to protect themselves.

Knowing what I know now about how vulnerable our children can be when we least expect it. I’d certainly be one of the first to sign up. So mom and dad how about you?

Darlene Brock is the author of HELP WANTED moms raising daughters and President of The Grit and Grace Project. She is a former Record Label Executive currently writing her second book entitled LADIES LIKE US while spearheading the development of a new website for Women due out later this year. Reach her here: www.facebook.com/DarleneBrockAuthor and www.TheGritandGraceProject.com

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A Low-Tech, but Hands-On Mom

I will go ahead and admit that I am in over my head when it comes to technology. Have you ever felt like you were listening to the Charlie Brown teacher speak, “Waa waaaa waa waa,” when your child tries to explain to you what they are constantly doing on their mobile phone?  This is a new world for some parents like me, I still accidentally leave my phone at home sometimes, I don’t play games on it and I rarely use any apps.  I pretty much use my iPhone to call, text and take pictures. I was immensely proud of myself when I figured out how to text said pictures to someone and/or post them to Facebook! That’s it. That’s the extent of my technical abilities. I really am okay with this.

But, you see, I have this almost 11 year old daughter. And she can shoot a video, play Movie Star Planet and YouTube her favorite song, all while FaceTiming with a friend! (Really? You can’t do all those things at once?) What I’m trying to say is that my sweet girl is a technical whiz! She is light years ahead of me. It is the one area where I have not personally escorted her into a new activity or phase of life. I was there for every swimming class, soccer game and basketball practice. I took her for her first mani/pedi and bought her first lip gloss. I am a hands-on mom and I am not naive about life.  I make it a point to know all of her friends and the majority of their parents.

Well, at least I USED to know all of her friends. She started Middle School, got an email account, an Instagram account and an iPhone all in a span of about 6 months. She is constantly on her phone. She rarely TALKS on the phone but seems to be in a perpetual text conversation and never stops scrolling through Instagram. I think she plays some games on there, too. When she tries to tell me what she is doing, all that I hear her saying is, “Waaa waaaa waa waa….!”

So I’m faced with a decision. My tendency, as a low-tech mom, would be to just hope for the best and trust that my daughter is making good choices. The harder decision for me to make would be to commit to knowing what she is doing with her social networking and to monitor her. The “hands-on” mom in me has to win out. I may never be able to introduce her to anything new about the internet and social networking, but I can certainly engage with her because it is important to her. I will teach her about make-up in a year or two and I am already teaching her to cook. These are areas of (somewhat) expertise for me. In turn, I want her to teach me about the internet and show me what she is involved in and how it works. This is her area of expertise. Because she is a child, and is bound to run into trouble from time to time, my husband and I have chosen to monitor her Instagram account with Zabra.

If you have not signed up for Zabra yet, get ready, because it really works. I was shocked the first time I looked at the alerts. My daughter was not doing anything wrong, but it was eye opening to see what other 5th graders were posting and saying. And if your child is following celebrities on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter, be warned that quite often their other followers are posting VERY inappropriate material that your child can see even if the celebrities themselves are kid-friendly!

I am not proud of being a low-tech mom, but I am proud that I’m a hands-on mom. Zabra is a no-brainer for the hands-on side of me. And it makes me feel a little higher tech, too. (Just don’t FaceTime me anytime soon. I probably left my phone at home!)

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Follow this low-tech mom as she attempts to navigate the internet and social networking while maintaining a good relationship with her daughter. She will speak honestly about her experiences with Zabra and the challenges of parenting in a digital world. Upcoming topics: Does Zabra Invade Your Child’s Privacy?, Cyberbullying, Social Networking & Suicide

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