Parents, keep an eye on your kids’ digital lives

Last week, reporter Julie Riddle documented the two-to-20-year prison sentence for Marc Whitney, a registered sex offender in Montmorency County who was following underrage girls on social media.

The really remarkable thing about the story was that it was an alert and suspicious mother of one of the teens who first discovered Whitney’s activity and reported it to law enforcement.

Good work, Mom. Who knows how many lives are better because of you?

The case highlights the dangerous world in which our teens live online, and the added responsibility we parents have for keeping them safe.

The New York Public Library system offers some tips parents can share with their kids for building good digital habits:

∫ Never share your last name, address, school name, or telephone number, and make sure none of that information can be deciphered from your screen name.

∫ Never share your password with anyone but your parents, and always log out when using computers away from home.

∫ Never post photos or videos without your parents’ permission.

∫ Never agree to meet online friends in person without your parents’ permission, and tell your parents or a trusted adult if someone asks to meet you.

∫ Never buy anything online or download anything without your parents’ permission.

∫ Tell your parents or another trusted adult when you receive mean, insulting or threatening messages online.

For many of us parents, our children’s digital world seems very different than the one we grew up in, but at least one thing hasn’t changed: The importance of talking to your kids.

Ask them about their online friends and activities. Be nosy. They may grumble now, but, as the Montmorency County mom showed us, they may thank you later.