FOSI Launches Program to Help Parents Keep Up with Kids Digital Lives

July 1, 2016

The Internet is a ubiquitous presence in our lives. Through the use of mobile phones, tablets, gaming devices, wearable technology and apps for every need, our children are connected, learning, creating and sharing more now than ever before.

My own children use the Internet to complete classroom lessons, do homework assignments, and conduct research for papers. I can confidently say that these are their least favorite uses, but for me, the most straightforward. My kids love to create and connect – they like to text, download new apps, take selfies, and create videos to share (right now is a favorite in our household). I have found that what’s in today is out tomorrow – they’re constantly searching for the next new thing - and this is what makes it challenging for parents like me.

How do I keep up with the technology that my children are using? What are the risks and what can I do to mitigate potential harms so they can continue to learn and have fun?

I take a number of protective steps with my own children. One of the most important to me is talking to them about their use of technology. It’s an on-going dialogue that grows and evolves as their use of technology becomes more complex. And, from my own experience, this evolution can happen fairly quickly.

When my oldest daughter first joined a social media network, I set expectations, discussed responsible use, the importance of not oversharing, and friended her – all the right things. She was soon tagged in a very cute group photo with a not so cute tagline. My conversation quickly evolved into the responsibility of managing not only the content she was posting, but the need to search for and address content posted by others that could have a negative impact on her digital reputation.

I’ve given a number of online safety presentations and have seen firsthand the need for information. I’ve also seen the positive dialogue and sharing of information that takes place when parents and other caregivers come together – they share their own experiences as well as advice and tips to help protect children online. Given the right resources, parents can help other parents to navigate the ever-evolving tech landscape and create a positive experience for our children.

The Family Online Institute has just launched one such resource – the “How to Be a Good Digital Parent Program”. It is designed to help parents improve their Internet safety knowledge and skills through participating in learning events hosted by parents and PTA leaders throughout the U.S. The program is comprehensive, easy to execute, and comes complete with a detailed PowerPoint presentation, presenter's guide, an instructional video and audience handouts – everything needed to host a successful event.

The “How to Be a Good Digital Parent” program is free resource that I encourage you to use and tell others about. I’ve used the program to give a presentation at my children’s school and hope you will too!

You can request a presenter’s toolkit by, clicking here

Written by

Holly Hawkins

Ms. Hawkins is a passionate advocate for the protection of children both online and in the real world. With more than 20 years’ child safety experience in both for profit and nonprofit sectors, she has developed national prevention programs, designed best practices for youth protection and privacy, and built national awareness campaigns.

Ms. Hawkins currently serves as a strategic consultant for the Family Online Safety Institute providing oversight and direction to FOSI's Good Digital Parenting, fostering deeper engagement and audience growth.

Ms. Hawkins also serves as iKeepSafe’s Chief Safety and Privacy Officer. She leads iKeepSafe’s privacy program with a focus on strengthening protections for student data within educational environments, among other areas.

Ms. Hawkins comes to FOSI and iKeepSafe after serving most recently as Vice President of Programs and Outreach at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC). In her role at the NCMEC, Ms. Hawkins was the leading force behind the development of KidSmartz, a national abduction prevention program for children in grades K-5. She also oversaw the expansion of NetSmartz, a leading Internet safety program, and the development of trainings for law enforcement, educators and other professionals focused on reducing child sexual exploitation and preventing child victimization.
Prior to NCMEC, Ms. Hawkins served as AOL’s Director of Global consumer Policy and Child Safety where she worked closely with both domestic and international child protection and Internet safety organizations to develop best practices for the protection of children online. She was responsible for a wide range of consumer protection and risk management issues for AOL brands including children’s safety and privacy, programming and advertising policies as well as community standards and moderation.

Ms. Hawkins served on the National Coalition to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation, the board of the Family Online Safety Institute and was an advisor to Enough is Enough. She was also a member of the European Commission’s Social Networking Principles Task Force, Internet Watch Foundation and the UK Council for Children and Internet Safety (UKCCIS).
Holly Hawkins joined NCMEC in 2013. She is responsible for community outreach and prevention education programs as well as NCMEC’s branch offices in Florida, New York and Texas.

Ms. Hawkins is a Certified Information Privacy Professional (CIPP).