An Inside Look at National PTA’s New Digital Safety Initiative

Last week, I visited Texas to help Chapel Hill Preparatory School in Dallas host the first Be Internet Awesome Family Workshop. I’m a new staff member at National PTA, so this was my first opportunity to see PTA members in action. My first impression? PTA parents are dedicated! These parents came ready to be vulnerable—no small feat with the amount of parent-shaming that goes on today—and talk openly about tough parenting issues, provide support for one another and create solutions together.

Families began to trickle in for dinner before the workshop started, allowing people to eat, relax and meet one another. With every activity, parents became more comfortable with each other, letting down their guard to voice their concerns about password security and how to keep their kids safe online. Soraya Gollop, the community liaison for Chapel Hill Prep was elated their PTA was able to put on this event, saying, “Our parents found it really helpful because this is an issue which concerns them. This is a program well worth running.”

What does it take to host an event like the Be Internet Awesome Workshop? Well, National PTA and Google will provide you with all the resources you need to host a successful event. You can visit PTA.org/Connected to find flyers, volunteer forms, an event planning checklist, email templates, sample agendas, evaluation forms and more materials you can use to plan, promote and host the workshop. Our community liaison in Texas noted she, “appreciated the amount of support materials and how clear it was what you needed to do in order to put the workshop on. The results were really fantastic.”

At the close of the event, Chapel Hill’s cafeteria was buzzing with parents continuing conversations on digital safety. Parents were excited and ready to incorporate what they learned with their families.

While we at National PTA have been thrilled with the feedback from the first Be Internet Awesome workshops, we want to make sure we are meeting the needs and learning styles of all families, so we are also working on another event model—our Digital Families Community Events.

During these events, families work together at station-based activity sessions that present real-world scenarios that happen in the connected world. They discuss the best ways to react, who to reach out to for help and how to plan for similar situations before they happen.  Like the workshops, National PTA and Facebook have created easy-to-use materials to assist any PTA with hosting their own event, from start to finish.

These guided conversations give families another way to connect with one another about their lives online, in a positive environment. During the first Digital Families Community Event, a parent attendee commented, “I’m happy to see the things my kids already know. I never would have guessed that they knew to ask permission before posting information online about other people.” It’s that kind of enlightenment and togetherness that makes a hosting digital safety events so vital.

If you are interested in bringing one of these events to your PTA community, make sure to apply for a grant today. Applications can be completed at PTA.org/Grants.

What’s the Difference Between the Cold and Flu?

Cold and flu both start with a sore throat and stuffy nose, but what are the symptoms that differentiate each virus? As we move into the colder months, it’s important to know the difference between the cold and flu.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cold and flu have similar symptoms because they are both respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by a different virus. Symptoms of the cold can include sneezing, a stuffy nose, and a sore throat. The flu, on the other hand, includes cold symptoms, as well as feeling feverish, experiencing body aches, headaches, chills, and fatigue.

Lysol and the National Parent Teacher Association want to make sure you avoid cold and flu symptoms by providing helpful tips to stay healthy.

  • Remember Your Flu Shot: The flu shot is the first step to help prevent getting sick. The National Foundation for Infectious Diseases reports that vaccine manufactures have estimated up to 169 million doses of the influenza vaccine will be available for the 2018-2019 flu season.
  • Always Be Prepared: Keep disinfectants available when you travel to help kill germs while you’re on the go. Lysol Disinfectant Spray To Go is easy to travel with and kills 99.9% of germs on hard surfaces, including cold and flu viruses. And don’t forget to frequently disinfect hard surfaces in the home with Lysol. Lysol Disinfectant Spray and Lysol Disinfecting Wipes kill the cold and flu virus.
  • Avoid Touching Your Face: Viruses can enter your body through your eyes, nose, and mouth, so avoid touching your face with unwashed hands!
  • Wet, Lather, Scrub, Rinse, Dry: These are the five simple and effective steps to washing your hands. Washing your hands regularly will help reduce your chances of to getting sick.

 

[1] CDC.gov. “Cold Versus Flu
[1] National Foundation for Infectious Diseases. “Influenza and Pneumococcal Disease Can be Serious, Health Officials Urge Vaccination”
[1] CDC.gov. “Preventing the Flu: Good Health Habits Can Help Stop Germs

Celebrate Global Handwashing Day, October 15, 2018!

October 15, 2018, marks the 11th annual Global Handwashing Day. This observance increases awareness and understanding of handwashing with soap as an effective and affordable way to prevent disease around the world.

Handwashing is simple, inexpensive, and can dramatically reduce the number of young children who get sick. Educating students on the importance of handwashing with soap and key times for when and how to wash hands properly is essential to preventing diseases like cold and flu. Together, parents, teachers, and school administrators have the power to create a culture of handwashing in schools that can help improve attendance by keeping everyone healthy.

Here are some easy ways your school can participate in this year’s campaign:

1)      Join the CDC social media campaign – Post a photo of yourself or others showing your clean hands using the hashtag #HandwashingHeroes. Check out the campaign webpage for more details.

2)      Tune in to CDC’s Facebook Live – CDC will host a Facebook Live presentation on Global Handwashing Day at 11 a.m. EDT. During this presentation, a CDC expert will talk about the importance of handwashing and give a live handwashing demonstration on how to properly wash hands with soap and water.

3)      Order free posters Remind school children to fight off germs by washing their hands. Display the posters in highly visible public areas, such as schools bathrooms, work areas, and restrooms.

4)      Promote on social media – Visit the social media library to share some of our sample social media messages and use the #GlobalHandwashingDay hashtag to help promote the observance day. You can also create your own messages.

5)      Use web content syndication – Add the latest content from CDC’s Handwashing website to your organization’s website. The content is automatically updated when CDC updates it, so your content will always be current and accurate.

6)      Share Health Promotion Resources

ü  CDC Wash Your Hands Feature

ü  Buttons and badges

ü  Posters

ü  Fact Sheets

ü  Podcasts

Visit CDC’s webpage on Global Handwashing Day more information. Thanks for your support in helping to raise awareness of the importance of handwashing!

 

 

My Experience Testifying Before the Federal Commission on School Safety

As the Federal Legislative Chair for Wyoming PTA, I testified before the Federal Commission on School Safety at a listening session in August in Cheyenne, WY. 

In my testimony, I referenced National PTA’s position statements on school safety and shared my experiences as a trustee of the local school district, Laramie County School District 1. I am proud that PTA emphasizes the inclusion of all stakeholders in local safety and security decisions and that arming teachers is not the solution to gun violence in schools.

I was listening, too, as students from Denver and Albuquerque testified before the commission on what school “safety and security” means to them. They talked about the importance of feeling safe from daily verbal and physical assaults from other students, about instances where they were in despair and contemplating self-harm. They talked about putting resources into counselors and school psychologists, not arming teachers.

Students from high schools with a large minority enrollment discouraged the commission from even arming law enforcement. In Wyoming, we rely on School Resource Officers onsite at our secondary schools, as trained and trusted professionals to respond to an active shooter. But the students who spoke at the listening session said they feared that more law enforcement presence in schools would lead to the targeting students of color and creation of more violence. These students want an environment free of weapons, staffed by caring and competent adults to help them deal with the violence that threatens them every day.

We must balance the need to protect students and staff in schools, but also ensure positive school discipline policies and procedures are in place so no group of students are disproportionately disciplined.  If the decision is made to have a Student Resource Officer in a school building, there must be a clearly defined memorandum of understanding, as recommended by the National Association of School Resource Officers (NASRO), between the law enforcement agency and the school on the role of the officer.

Of course, we need to be prepared for the rare but real possibility of disaster, as we do with tornado shelters. So, we need buildings with secure access, we need school personnel and students to be prepared for all types of emergency scenarios, and we need trained SROs. But what I gained from the listening session was what makes students afraid every day and what makes them feel safe personally, so they can learn. A gun in the Social Studies teacher’s desk drawer doesn’t make them feel safe.

I also learned the value of anonymous reporting systems, we use Safe2Tell in Wyoming, because students want to be safe and will tell adults about weapons and threats they see and hear in their schools.

These things cost money, obviously, and our fear is that pressure to cut budgets will keep our schools from meeting the daily safety and security needs the students described. I think a few of the adults mentioned that fear, too.

I trust the Federal Commission on School Safety was listening and releases a report that focuses on collaborative, evidenced-based school safety best practices as recommended in the Framework for Safe and Successful Schools.

 

How Parents Can Promote Health and Wellness Under the Every Student Succeeds Act: Four Things You Can Do

 

Parents and guardians play a critical role in ensuring that schools and out-of-school time environments are healthy. Through advocating for healthy celebrations and fundraisers, serving on district and school wellness committees, and organizing before and afterschool physical activities, parents set high standards for health and wellness in their communities. Healthier Generation has many resources to help families and community members get involved, including new shareable videos on fundraising, celebrations, and rewards.

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the recent reauthorization of our nation’s education law, recognizes the learning and health connection and provides opportunities for health and wellness to be more fully integrated into education policy and practice.

How does health and wellness fit into ESSA?

  • 36 states and the District of Columbia will now hold schools accountable for chronic absenteeism. While the causes of chronic absenteeism are multifold, research shows that student physical, mental, and a school’s health and wellness environment are key factors.
  • In addition to many states including chronic absenteeism in their state accountability systems, all state school report cards must now include chronic absenteeism.
  • ESSA includes a strong focus on school climate and social and emotional learning (SEL). Nutrition and physical activity have a major impact both school climate and SEL.
  • Funding designated to support the lowest performing schools can be used to support student engagement and promote healthy, safe, and supportive school environments. Based upon a comprehensive needs assessment, schools must develop a school improvement plan. Ensuring that needs assessments examine the health and wellness environment in the school is essential to this process.
  • Funding designated to provide high-quality professional development for all school staff, can be used to train school staff on the learning and health connection, as well as to provide training for health and physical education teachers and specialized instructional support personnel (school nurses, school psychologists, etc.).
  • At least 20% of the funds districts receive from the Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grant must be allocated to improving the safety and health of students and at least 20% to providing a well-rounded education (including health and physical education). Any school district receiving more than $30,000 from this grant program must conduct a needs assessment and use the funds to address the needs identified.

ESSA implementation is almost entirely state driven; the responsibility will be on school districts to carry out much of the work. As important voices of the community, families are in a unique position to advocate for school and afterschool to serve the whole child and meet the full spectrum of student needs.

Here are four action steps:

  1. Find out how you can influence your state’s implementation of ESSA. Read Using Needs Assessments to Connect Learning + Health.
  2. Spread the word on how ESSA can support student health and wellness with our ESSA FAQ. You can read more about what your state included in its state plan here.
  3. Invite a community partner (like parks and recreation) to join you on your district or school wellness committee to influence ESSA implementation in the district. Wellness committees can inform district and school-level needs assessments and identify sources of health and wellness data.
  4. Invite members of your local school board to your next school, family or community event. Talk to them about ensuring that ESSA is implemented in a way that supports student health and wellness.

Sign up here to get regular updates from Healthier Generation and the Healthy Schools Campaign on how states are implementing ESSA in a way that supports student health and wellness. If you have questions or need additional resources, contact Nancy Katz or Alex Mays.

What Can Your PTA Do About the Opioid Epidemic?

It seems that no matter where you turn, there are more and more reports about the opioid epidemic. It has impacted everyone across the country regardless of age, gender, race, ethnicity or socioeconomic status. This is an equal-opportunity epidemic—meaning no one is immune. However, there is still a negative public perception about individuals who struggle with substance use disorders. The myth that it is a willpower issue or “they deserve what they get” fuels the stigma that often stops people from reaching out and asking for help.

In order to get an understanding of where our country is with this epidemic, take a look at the following statistics from National Institute on Drug Abuse[1]:

  • Roughly 21% to 29% of patients prescribed opioids for chronic pain misuse them.
  • Between 8% and 12% develop an opioid use disorder.
  • An estimated 4% to 6% of patients who misuse prescription opioids transition to heroin.
  • About 80% of people who use heroin first misused prescription opioids.
  • Opioid overdoses increased 30% from in 45 states between July 2016 and September 2017.
  • The Midwest saw opioid overdoses increase 70% between July 2016 and September 2017.
  • Opioid overdoses in large cities increased by 54% in 16 states.
  • Synthetic opioids (primarily fentanyl) passed prescription opioids as the most common drugs involved in overdose deaths. In 2016, synthetic opioids were involved in nearly 50% of opioid-related deaths, up from 14%.[2]

These numbers are alarming and they don’t tell the stories of struggling families trying to access treatment for loved ones, or whole communities devastated by overdose deaths. You may wonder, what can I do to make an impact? How can I be part of the solution? What can my PTA do to make a difference?

The good news is, you can help in many ways!

  1. Advocate for streamlining access to an appropriate level of care services, including medication-assisted services: There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach for substance use disorder treatment. Each person needs to be assessed individually based on their needs and experiences.
  1. Advocate for multiple pathways for recovery. including the use of peer mentors and recovery coaches: There has been promising ongoing research on the strength-based approach of people in recovery to providing support for individuals and families accessing care.[3] 
  1. Advocate for access to the overdose reversal medication Naloxone: The US Surgeon General “released a public health advisory to urge more Americans to carry a potentially lifesaving medication that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.” [4]
  1. Advocate for interstate prescription monitoring program: Prescription monitoring programs have been established in most, but not all states, to collect, maintain and monitor prescriptions. This has been shown to reduce the numbers of people “doctor shopping” for prescriptions.[5]
  1. Advocate for the training of all healthcare prescribers on medication pain management and risks of physical dependency: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) created guidelines[6] for prescribing opioids for chronic pain. This includes training of providers.[7]
  1. Advocate for and promote drug take-back programs[8]: These programs promote opportunities to get unwanted or unused drugs out of the medicine cabinet to be disposed of properly. These can be community-wide events or to have ongoing locations where drugs can be disposed of properly year-round.
  1. Advocate for funding of evidence-based prevention, screening and early intervention services: Evidence-based means that the initiative has been researched and proven to be effective. The National Registry on Evidenced Based Programs and Practices (NREPP) [9] provides a listing of evidence-based and emerging practices that can be implemented in a variety of communities and settings.
  1. Become part of a local substance-use prevention coalition: Coalitions are a proven prevention strategy designed to change the environmental culture of a community. PTAs represent not just parents but the entire community and are vital key stakeholders in making a coalition effective.[10] Learn more about building and joining coalitions.
  1. Share stories of long-term recovery and reduced stigma: PTAs have a powerful voice and ability to educate members and the community. By changing the story from one of disaster to one of hope, your PTA shows that people with substance-use disorders can heal. PTAs can lead the way in changing and eliminating the stigmatizing language often associated with people struggling with substance use disorders. Consider partnering with organizations such as Faces and Voices of Recovery,[11] whose focus is to destigmatize the disease with new messaging and supporting a national recovery movement.
  1. Promote and share the National PTA position statement on Prescription Opiate Abuse Awareness and Prevention.[12]

Interested in learning more?

National PTA is hosting a symposium entitled “Opioids: A Public Health Epidemic, A Crisis for Families” during the National PTA Convention & Expo in New Orleans, La., Saturday, June 23 at 3:45 p.m.

If you’re in or near New Orleans, I strongly encourage you to attend the symposium. Dr. Bertha Madras from the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis will be giving a keynote, and a panel of leading experts in opioid misuse, education and treatment will discuss the current opioid crisis, the evolution of prevention methods being deployed at the community, state and national levels, and what role PTAs and parents play in the fight to eradicate this epidemic. This session will also be streaming on Facebook Live, so every parent can hear this important information.


Susanne Smoller LCSW-R, CASAC, CPP, MAC, ACSW is the New York State PTA juvenile protection specialist, the Nassau Region PTA associate director and a panelist on the National PTA Convention & Expo Symposium “Opioids: A Public Health Epidemic, A Crisis for Families.” 

[1] https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/opioids/opioid-overdose-crisis

[2] https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/trends-statistics/infographics/fentanyl-other-synthetic-opioids-drug-overdose-deaths

[3] https://www.oasas.ny.gov/recovery/coach/index.cfm

[4] https://www.surgeongeneral.gov/priorities/opioid-overdose-prevention/index.html

[5] http://www.pdmpassist.org/

[6] https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/prescribing/guideline.html

[7] https://www.samhsa.gov/medication-assisted-treatment/training-resources/opioid-courses

[8] https://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drug_disposal/takeback/index.html

[9] https://nrepp.samhsa.gov/landing.aspx

[10] https://www.samhsa.gov/capt/tools-learning-resources/components-effective-coalition

[11] https://facesandvoicesofrecovery.org/

[12] https://www.pta.org/docs/default-source/uploadedfiles/Advocacy/recommendations-regarding-prescription-opiate-abuse-awareness-and-prevention-ps

Enjoy Summer Vacation to the Fullest with Healthy Habits

School is almost out for the summer, and students are looking forward to the pool parties, travel and beach days ahead. Use these easy and effective tips to help prevent illness this summer to ensure children have a safe and fun vacation.

  • Stay Clean: While kids are on summer vacation, school’s not out for germs. The fun outdoor activities keep children busy but also mean germs and bacteria are being spread throughout the home. Remember to disinfect areas in your home regularly to help prevent the spread of germs. Lysol Disinfecting Wipes and Lysol Disinfectant Spray kill 99.9% of bacteria and viruses on commonly touched surfaces in the home such as keyboards, doorknobs and tables. (When Used as Directed)
  • Beat the Heat: The summer brings in longer days and beautiful sunshine that encourages us to enjoy the outdoors. However, it’s important to keep children protected against the sun’s ultraviolet rays and intense heat. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that even young and healthy people can get sick from the heat while participating in summertime physical activity. To avoid heat-related illness, make sure children are using sunscreen and wearing loose and light-colored clothing when outside.[1]
  • Prepare for Picnics: The warm summer weather encourages perfect moments for family picnics. Preparing ourselves for a healthy picnic doesn’t stop at sunscreen or wearing the right clothing, but with the right products that help us leave no harsh chemical residue behind on surfaces we eat. Grab the new Lysol Daily Cleanser – made with only three ingredients & has no harsh chemical residue which makes it safe to use on food contact surfaces.

Healthy habits aren’t just for the school year—use them in the summertime to help stay well! For more information and tips to help keep your family healthy, please visit Lysol.com. 

Rory Tait is the Marketing Director at Lysol. He drives the Lysol Healthy Habits campaign, a program focused on educating parents & teachers across the country on the importance of healthy habits and good hygiene practices.

[1] CDC.gov. “Make Summer Safe for Kids” (June 28, 2017)

Use Healthy Habits to Prevent Cold & Flu in Time for Graduation

(Sponsored Post)

Cold & flu season is most common during the chilly winter months with peaks of activity between December and February.[1] The 2017-2018 flu season, which is expected to last through May, has been particularly strong, with elevated activity occurring in most of the country simultaneously.[2] In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 45 states are currently experiencing widespread flu activity.[3]

With graduation season approaching and school communities gearing up to celebrate student achievements, it’s critical to use healthy habits to avoid illness.

Practice these healthy habits to help prevent the spread of cold and flu so your family can enjoy graduation activities:

  • Don’t pull an all-nighter: Students will often cut back on sleep to work and study, but it’s important to get an adequate amount of sleep each night for good health. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, children ages six to 12 should get nine to 12 hours of sleep per 24 hours, while teenagers should get around eight to ten hours.[4]
  • Clean the classroom: The flu virus can live on hard surfaces for up to 48 hours. Remember to use Lysol Disinfectant Spray and Lysol Disinfecting Wipes, which kill 99.9% of viruses and bacteria on frequently touched areas such as desks, keyboards and doorknobs. As a bonus, Lysol is the exclusive household cleaning and disinfecting product in partnership with Box Tops for Education. By purchasing Lysol products, you can earn valuable points which can be converted into cash for your school.
  • Study up on healthy habits: Make sure to practice healthy habits that help prevent the spread of germs. Teach your children to use proper cough and sneeze etiquette, to throw away tissues after use and to frequently wash their hands.

Rory Tait is the Marketing Director at Lysol. He drives the Lysol Healthy Habits campaign, a program focused on educating parents & teachers across the country on the importance of healthy habits and good hygiene practices.

 

[1] CDC.gov “The Flu Season

[2]  CDC.gov “Update: Influenza Activity – United States, October 1, 2017-February 3, 2018

[3]  CDC.gov “Frequently Asked Flu Questions 2017-2018 Influenza Season

[4]  CDC.gov “Are you getting enough sleep?

Parents are Key to Healthy Schools

When we moved to the Skokie School District, just outside of Chicago, I decided to volunteer at my children’s school, John Middleton Elementary, because I know kids do better in school when their parents are involved.  My three kids, ages 4, 6 and 8, are active in swimming, Tae Kwon Do and baseball, but I know that learning to eat healthy is as important for them as being active. Kids tend to think they are like Superman, but with my family’s history of high cholesterol and heart disease, instilling healthy habits in my children has always been important to me. That’s why I chose to volunteer with school health and wellness programs.

One of my first volunteer experiences was working on our family fitness night. I worked with our PE teachers to organize the event and involve the community, too. Five different local businesses, including personal trainers, a kickboxing coach and a yoga instructor, hosted family fitness classes. We also incorporated a healthy snack component for the event, and our local grocery story provided smoothie samples.

Normally, the kids would be afraid of the green color of the smoothies, but the small samples were easy and fun for them to try. A little innovation and creativity can go a long way to getting kids excited about trying something new. Now we’re working on our HealthierUS School Challenge: Smarter Lunchrooms (HUSSC:SL) award application to receive national recognition for creating a health-promoting school. The school is getting a new gymnasium and multipurpose room to accommodate the daily PE initiative for the students. This could not have been made possible without the support of a great community, administration and our wellness committee.

It’s been over two years since that event and we have accomplished a lot since then. I became more involved with the school’s wellness committee. We applied for a Game On grant from Action for Healthy Kids, funded by ALDI, to support our physical activity and nutrition education programs.

My kids were my inspiration to get started, but they and the school community kept me motivated! The principal, Courtney Goodman, and the teachers are an integral part to the success of the school health initiatives, in which I’m involved. They are supportive, passionate and really believe in what they are doing—and it shows. If you’re interested in getting involved in school health and wellness, here are a few tips to get you started:

  1. Lead by example. Parents should show their passions, be creative and have fun! Talk to your kids to see what they would like. When I planned our first family fitness night, I brought a Taekwondo instructor to teach a class, because my kids are involved in it outside of school and I knew they and their friends would enjoy it. If you make physical activity fun, kids are more likely to get excited and want to participate.
  2. Join your school’s or your PTA’s health and wellness team. If there isn’t one, start one! You can find tips and resources for creating and being a member of a successful school health team at org/Game-On.
  3. Start by talking! If there is something you want to improve at your child’s school, don’t be afraid to speak up. Talk to your school administration, teachers and other parents about your concerns and how you can problem solve together to make your school a healthier place. Enlist community members to support your team as you develop your programs. They are invaluable and can bring extra resources and hands to help you be successful.

Learn more and apply a newly released Parents for Healthy Kids grant from AFHK at ParentsforHealthyKids.org/Grants. Applications accepted through April 6, 2018 for the 2018-2019 school year. Questions? Email schoolgrants@actionforhealthykids.org.

Minal Desai is a parent from Skokie, Illinois.  

5 Ways to Shop Safely on Black Friday & Cyber Monday

The holiday shopping season now begins online on Thanksgiving (Brown Thursday), continuing through Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Some retailers have even taken it a step further: Mall of America and several other retailers have announced that they will be closed on Thanksgiving—making it a “cyber-only” day for many shoppers.

This new emphasis on “cyber shopping” means that both parents and kids need to be on the lookout for shopping dangers and keep protecting their identity top of mind.

Here are five suggestions that can go a long way towards reducing your vulnerability to identity theft and fraud this holiday season and year round.

  1. Keep a low profile. Avoid sharing personal information to receive promotions and offers. If you need to put in an email address to get a coupon or shop one time on a site, consider using a temporary one. Sites like 10MinuteMail.com can help.
  • Don’t save your credit card info on retailer websites, just in case the retailer suffers a data breach. Limit your social media sharing and never post personal information such as addresses, emails, phone numbers or birthdates.
  1. Pay with a credit card … or online/mobile payment. Always use a credit card, not a debit card. You’re not held responsible for unauthorized credit card purchases (beyond, in some cases, a $50 fee), but a thief armed with your stolen debit card could wipe out your entire bank balance—at least until an investigation is completed. Even better, use an online or mobile payment service such as Apple Pay, Android Pay or PayPal.
  2. Take protective measures online. Public Wi-Fi can expose everything you’re doing online. One of the best ways to protect your information online is to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) from a trusted vendor. VPNs provide a “secure tunnel” that encrypts data being sent and received between your device and the internet.
  • Many companies use secure websites—HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure)—to provide online security. You can tell if a website is secure if it has “https” in its URL and has a small lock symbol next to it. However, even though the website itself might be safe, your personal information could still be vulnerable if your network connection isn’t secure.
  1. Watch your accounts closely. Be sure to regularly check your bank and credit card accounts for any unfamiliar charges or activity, and regularly update passwords with unique ones for each site. Online card fraud has risen sharply and this could mean you’re at risk. You can set up text and email alerts to keep track of your bank and credit transactions. Do a weekend recap at the end of a long shopping weekend, and review and shred your receipts when you don’t need them anymore.
  2. Have the Smart Talk. The majority of children receive their first smart phone between the ages of eight and 12. That means managing kids and their devices has become more of a juggling act than ever for parents. LifeLock and National PTA launched The Smart Talk, a free, online tool for families that helps parents have clear conversations with their children about using technology in order to agree on ground rules together. We want our children to learn and have fun through technology, and at the same time, stay safe. The Smart Talk provides an interactive experience that guides kids and parents through a series of questions and conversations about topics such as safety, privacy, screen time, social media, texting and cameras. After agreeing on healthy limits together, a personalized, official family agreement can be stored on the computer or printed and posted at home. Visit TheSmartTalk.org for more information.

Paige Hanson is the Chief of Identity Education at Lifelock.