With summer’s flexible schedules, looser supervision and kids reaching for their i-devices to keep in touch with school friends, it’s a good time for a Momstamp conversation about technology and cyber safety with cyber safety specialist and mother of two, Lori Getz.
Lori founded Cyber Education Consultants in 2008 and began speaking to students, parents, and educators about Internet safety, security and ethics. Her mission is simple – to help bridge the gap between a young generation of digital natives and their parents and teachers. She has appeared on the “Dr. Phil Show,” “Today,” “HLN,” “Dr. Drew”, CNN, and several other local news and radio programs, including the Ryan Seacrest show.
Her article on developing safe and healthy technology habits for family is a must read for all parents.
See Lori’s Recommendations on Momstamp!
How did you develop your cyber education program?
Back in 2004, when I started working with the FBI safe team, it was all about predators.arents were fearful about what was going online and very concerned about how to keep their kids safe. In our education programs we discussed ways to keep children offline as long as possible. In 2008, after doing this for a few years, I realized the approach we were taking wasn’t a viable solution. We weren’t looking at the whole picture. As somebody who really enjoys technology and sees all of its great benefits, I wasn’t willing to put this kind of “Do Not Enter” stamp on it and put my name next to it and say “All technology is bad. Let’s shut it down”.
I developed a program that is now part of Cyber Education Consultants that’s much more about the safe, responsible and ethical use of technology. It includes everything from internet safety issues regarding privacy and stranger awareness, all the way to health and wellness issues. I talk a lot about mental and physical health as it pertains to technology. Issues related to children deriving self worth from the number of likes they get on Instagram photos to how technology affects sleep.
How has having kids impacted the work that you do or affected the work that you do?
I’ve worked with tens of thousands of children in my career but it’s not the same as having a child in your home. I have two children who I use as my guinea pigs for a lot of things that I believed to be true. I also come from a big family, nephews, nieces, cousins, they are also my guinea pigs. When I do the parenting workshop, I’m coming from a place of personal experience. My approach has always been that we’re better off being educated than just restricting something we don’t understand. As a parent, seeing how that actually works has benefited my ability to tap into that information.
What is one of the more significant things you have learned as a parent that has influenced your approach?
The way that I approach Internet safety has really changed. My daughter learned about “Stranger Danger” in school. If I could scream from the rooftops to stop that program, I would. What I can tell you now, not just as a parent but also as someone who works with local and federal law enforcement is that 90% of kids, who are physically and sexually abused, are abused by someone they know, not a stranger.
When I realized how this translates online, it changed the entire way I started talking to elementary school children about gaming online. I changed it from a conversation about gaming online with strangers to what makes someone a friend. How do we redefine the words friend, acquaintance and stranger for our children online? This came from my own daughter and her perception of that seminar.
What are the rules in your house around technology usage and “screen time?”
You’re going to laugh. I have three rules in my house. There are just three rules and that’s it.
1. You don’t disobey a direct order.
2. You don’t lie.
3. You’re not disrespectful.
That’s it. We don’t have rules about screen time. We don’t have rules about food or dessert. We have no rules about anything specific. We just have those three, but those rules cover a lot of interconnecting issues. Like the respect issue, you need to be respectful to the household. You can’t just take things or just do things without asking. If you want to watch TV, in order to be respectful you’ve got to ask. As the parent, I determine the amount of time at that point. If they don’t listen, then that’s disobeying a direct order. It’s all tied together.
What are some of the ways that you look to integrate your family life and your professional life now that you have kids?
I love taking my kids with me to work when I can. I like them to see how I contribute to society and this is how I do it. We definitely we talk about it a lot in my house. When I’ve taken them to see me speak and it helped them better understand what I do. It was really cool to see that they were proud of me. I loved that.
My kids know that I love what I do. I think that’s the best thing I can teach my daughters. I love my work. I love my family. I love my husband. I love what I do. I think that as much as they can see that and I think that to me is important.