The MotherPod Ep 9: Protecting our Kids in the Digital Age ft. Special Agent Heather
After serving as the keynote speaker for our Gathering event, Heather Ryan graciously sat down with the MotherPod to further discuss cyber safety and protecting our kids in a digital age. As a former NCIS Special Agent who has worked with drug dealers, spies, and rapists, she understands how the criminal mind operates and how the bad guys choose their victims. She uses that experience now to empower people with the knowledge and tools they need to keep themselves and their loved ones safe.
Even though Heather’s job is one that most of us can only relate to from what we see on TV (not really how it is by the way), she is also a mom of two, and shares similar struggles like finding a balance between work and motherhood. “I worked very hard, and I loved my job … but I needed to find a different way to do that. I wanted a way to see my children more often but still help.” She found a way by founding Safe in the City and addressing the lack of education that was out there related to being safe and protecting yourself from predators. With Safe in the City she uses her NCIS “know-how” to teach self-defense, cyber safety, and the power of communication.
We asked Heather what parents need to know about cyber risks and keeping their kids safe online. She said what’s most important is for parents to understand that they don’t have to know everything, but they do need to know enough to be able to start a conversation. Ask your kids what they are on (facebook, twitter, snapchat, etc.) and then have a discussion about the dangers that exist – the online predators, cyber bullying, and even the psychological consequences that come from constantly comparing yourself to others on social media. Have your kids teach you how everything works, and then research ways to keep your family safe. Common Sense Media is a tool that Heather recommends, but there are many others out there that can fit your individual parenting style. Lastly, Heather encourages everyone to share your experiences. “The only way we are going to learn about how to effectively parent in this digital world is to teach others what we know.”
We are so thankful to Heather Ryan for taking time to chat with us. What a fascinating conversation! Listen to more of our conversation, including how Heather became an NCIS agent and what to do if you think you might be the victim of a cyber crime, by finding the MotherPod on itunes and Soundcloud. Still want more? Visit specialagentheather.me to pre-order your copy of Heather Ryan’s book, Special Agent Mom.