I admit I was hoping to never get an email like this from the school:

“Some students in your child’s class have been involved in inappropriate online behaviour. Our Student Resource Officer will be doing a presentation on cyberbullying and leading a discussion about responsible actions on the internet. Please speak to your child about his/her activity online.”

The other day, a friend of my 11-year-old daughter called the house to make arrangements to get together for a group project.

Recently, my nephew, age 12, received a letter in the mail. It was addressed to him personally, by name. Inside was a photocopied article about the powers of a new virility medicine, complete with the usual graphic promises for pleasuring the ladies. The article mentioned a specific “doctor” by name, but other than that, there was no contact information or order form or any other action request. It appeared to just be spam but in paper form.

I work from home, and I think that means my kids get more sick days than the average student. It’s pretty easy for them to convince me that they need a day of rest if they have a bit of a cough or a slight fever. I admit I’m probably too easily swayed and I do tend to cave in when they look up at me with big sad eyes from where they have swooned onto the couch.

My three kids all know the password to my phone.

It’s because I rely on them to play secretary for me when I’m driving. If the phone rings or there is a bing of a text, 99% of the time it’s a member of my immediate family trying to get in touch with something relatively pressing.

My teens are still young and new to social media, so until now, we’ve mostly been focusing on the risks. Our main message to them has been to be careful, and that less time online is always better.

Our son turned 15 last month, and we’ve had plenty of wary, nervous comments since then about how driving is just around the corner. Next year, he’ll be getting his beginner’s licence! Just 11 more months before he’s behind the wheel!

We have a few smartphone rules in our house: no phones after 9:30 p.m., no phones at the dinner table or other family events, and no phones in bedrooms.

How can you help pre-teens understand the value of their personal information and empower them to take steps to manage and protect it? Data Defenders, an educational game for children ages 10 to12, lifts the curtain on data collection by showing how apps and games can find out all kinds of things about them and by providing steps they can take to control the collection of personal information online.

As a kid, did you ever hide a flashlight under your pillow? Then pull it out after you were supposed to be asleep, so you could sneak in another half-hour of reading?

I did that. A lot.

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