Questions Answered by Founder of Family Online Safety Institute: Recap

By Jess Searcy August 13, 2019

As a parent of two tween boys, I am forever struggling to keep up with the innovations of technology. I'm anxious over the amount of screen time my boys are exposed to and knowing what is safe and what isn't. Our generation's parents never had to deal with the rapid pace of technology or the incredible amount of exposure to technology, when we were kids. We simply don't have the role models for what good parenting looks like, when it comes to technology. So what can we do? All we really can do is educate ourselves about the devices and apps our kids use and the many forms of parental controls that are available.

So, how do we educate ourselves?

Last week, Stephen Balkam, the founder and CEO of the Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI), made a stop in Birmingham, on his national tour of ten cities, in partnership with Verizon. He hopes to speak to the anxieties and frustrations of today's parents, with regards to technology, and raise awareness about online safety for children. Eighteen parents packed into one of Sky Zone Hoover's party rooms to hear about the goals of FOSI and get some questions answered by an expert.

The first part of the program, where Balkam introduces himself and FOSI, was recorded LIVE to Facebook, and can be rewatched HERE if you missed it.

In order to help parents, FOSI has developed a program called "Good Digital Parenting," which strives to empower parents with the tools they need to confidently navigate the digital world with their children. The entire program, which includes "The Seven Steps to Good Digital Parenting," and all the associated resources can be found on FOSI's website HERE.

Balkam's visit to Birmingham facilitated a great conversation among parents who attended. One thing I felt was really important is developing trust between parent and child. Balkam explained how it is important to monitor our kids, but not in a secret, underhanded way. We should foster trust by being completely open and honest with our kids about how and when we are monitoring them. It is also important to have conversations about digital safety every year, as they learn and grow and technology changes. Having these continuous conversations also fosters trust. And with trust is the hope that our kids will come to us first whenever they have a question or concern.

Verizon Spokesperson Kate Jay and Founder and CEO of Family Online Safety Institute Stephen Balkam

Verizon spokesperson Kate Jay also spoke with parents at the event. She shared with us several products available to parents to help with good digital parenting. For example, there are several devices that can be used to connect parents and kids that are not smartphones. One such device is the Gizmo Gadget Gadget Watch. The watches have GPS location capabilities and kids can talk and send messages back and forth with parents and a limited number of people parents approve to the plan.

Jay also shared Verizon's new "Just Kids" phone plan that lets parents manage screentime, filter content, track location and more. Visit Verizon's website HERE to find out more about "Just Kids."

Disclosure: Thank you to Sky Zone Hoover for hosting this event and Verizon for sponsoring this event in partnership with Macaroni Kid South Birmingham and Family Online Safety Institute.


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