Parents of teens and adolescents are being outpaced by their children when it comes to technology. Kids are on the computer all the time – Instant Messaging (IMing) each other, posting pictures on sites like Myspace and Facebook, downloading music and videos. Many parents have no idea what their kids are doing online, who they’re talking to, or how it all works. Now they do.
Atlanta-based children’s network, Connect with Kids, has launched a new parenting community called Parents & Company, giving parents their own space to meet online, share stories, get advice, and generally learn why their kids enjoy online socializing so much. It’s part of the Connect with Kids website (connectwithkids.com) which offers parents, educators and youth leaders real-life videos, news stories and the latest articles about solutions for raising kids. The site’s free, online “video how-to” is an industry first, so even beginners can get started right away.
“So many parents I talk to are concerned about what their kids are doing online,” says Stacey DeWitt, founder and CEO of Connect with Kids. “They worry that their kids know so much more about technology and they have no way to keep up. The new community will help parents learn about important issues affecting their children, and easily teach them the online tools that their children are using to connect with each other.”
It is free to join Parents & Company and access the site’s resources and videos. Like a “Facebook for parents,” the new site features state-of-the-art web tools, allowing members to create their own personal profiles, post and view photos, create a friends list, send messages, chat in forums, and even write their own blogs. Parents & Company also allows members to perform detailed searches for other parents with interests similar to their own. Topics frequently addressed include: drinking, driving safety, Internet dangers, drugs, bullying, sex, academic pressures, learning disabilities and more.
“I love the mom-to-mom sharing,” says Donna Baumstark, who visits the online community at least three times a week. “But what distinguishes this site from other sites I’ve been on is that they have fact-based content that I can get for my kids. I use the search tool all the time to find articles. Some of the ones I’ve read are about Internet safety, school issues and protecting kids online.” In fact, the site offers news and information on more than 100 kids’ topics, all searchable and just a click away.
Baumstark adds that she loves being able to talk with people who know what she’s going through, and who can fill her in on what to look for as her kids get older. “One mom talked about her kids getting recruiting letters in the mail, and not realizing they were signing up! I wouldn’t know about that because of my kids’ ages, but now I know to watch for it and talk to my kids.”
The most popular feature on the community so far is The Forum – a dozen or so blogs from a variety of parents and educators. Says Baumstark, “I usually read the Tweens blog, the Stay-at-Home-Moms one, and the Dad’s Perspective. That’s really interesting!”
Sarah Wilson signed up and immediately invited her family and friends to join. “Now my parents, cousins, aunts and uncles can all come to one place and we can catch up. I post pictures, I send them messages, and I even started a blog to tell everyone what’s going on in my life. It’s a great way to stay in touch because we all live in different cities.”
Parents & Company includes the most popular Web 2.0/social networking capabilities:
• Individual blogs for each member to write about topics important to them
• Public discussion boards on topics such as single parenting, surviving the teen years
• Detailed search mode to find other community members with similar interests
• “Make a friend” feature that invites people to join your network
• RSS-generated content from hundreds of parenting sites
• Photo galleries for posting and viewing photos
• Reviews, comments and discussions about Connect with Kids videos and other content
Connect with Kids produces award-winning television and news programs about kids’ issues, as a way to help parents and educators talk to kids about difficult topics. The company created Parents & Company as another way to help parents, educators and kids talk and learn together. Members can watch Connect with Kids’ video news stories, post comments about the videos, and keep up with the latest parenting news and tips.
About Connect with Kids
Connect with Kids has received numerous Emmys and Parents Choice Awards for its parenting programs, and most recently won a Daytime Emmy® for “Outstanding Children/Youth/Family Special.” Connect with Kids wrote and produced “Reality Matters: Teen Sexuality” which appeared on the Discovery Health network. The program deals with teen sexuality and portrays real life kids and parents coping with the challenges and solutions to this critical issue.
Founded in 1998, Connect with Kids produces the Emmy award-winning Connect with Kids television series featuring real kids sharing their true stories about today’s tough issues. These half-hour specials are shown on the top network-affiliated stations across the country, reaching 65 percent of U.S. households. CWK Network also has developed more than 120 multimedia programs used in elementary, middle and high schools across the country, as well as consumer DVDs and resources for parents. Headquartered in Atlanta, GA, you can find more information about Connect with Kids and CWK Network at connectwithkids.com.