May 23, 2012

Eric Shepperd

Keeping Kids Drug-Free: Use Digital Resources, Tools

Relate to your kids in their digital environment; plenty of online tools are available to keep kids safe and drug-free.

Facebook. Twitter. Foursquare. iChat. Google. Whether it’s via computer or smartphone, most kids these days are using the technology at their fingertips 24/7. Not only to talk to their friends (i.e. key influencers), but to learn about the world, what’s out there and what they may not have experienced yet.

While it’s encouraging to help build our children’s dreams and goals, every parent ultimately hopes that the path doesn’t alter to include drugs and alcohol. This is why it’s important to talk to our kids about what they’ve heard from their peers, what they know, why not to use, etc. And while good old-fashioned, one-on-one talks or family chats around the dinner table are tried and true methods to ensuring your children’s safety and future, why not relate to them in their digital environment, too?

Everything can be Googled, and everyone is on Facebook, so it’s important for us as parents to know what our kids’ priorities may be when going online. While parental controls have been the standard, and searching Web history isn’t rocket science, it’s about going beyond monitoring our children and taking time to start sharing with them and learning for ourselves.

This is where organizations, such as, have stepped in to provide different avenues of sharing information not only for parents, but for teens as well.

For example,’s Video Learning Center is an (free) online space for parents, teens and healthcare providers designed to prevent underage drinking and drug use before it starts. However, the videos don’t just focus on why drugs are bad, but rather feature Arizona parents and teens that have had their own life experience with drugs or alcohol, so that those utilizing the Center can learn from personal experiences of their surrounding community members.

The parent-targeted video series is designed to help parents understand why kids use drugs, how to talk with their child and how to help reduce their chances of experimenting with these substances. It also includes next steps for those parents that suspect or know their child is using drugs or drinking.

The teen video series gives viewers a look inside local teens’ personal experiences where they learn why some teens use, how they needed professional help to stop their use and how their parents and family played a role in getting their lives back on track.

In addition to resources such as the Video Learning Center, which allows us as parents to better relate to our kids and share with them stories of their own peers, there are also resources such as the Parents Club, which was designed for parents with children of all ages as a space where parents can share ideas, challenges and ways to stay ahead of trends impacting their children.

Membership costs $30 annually for two adults or $50 for two years and the benefits include:

  • Two online webinars each year (back to school and springtime).
  • Entry into the Facebook Parents Club group. This closed group allows an open forum for Club members to discuss important issues in their surrounding communities, share ways to interact with children regarding drugs and alcohol, share parenting strategies, and to learn about other drug- and alcohol-related issues.
  •’s eNews and invitations to events.
  • Weekly Table Talk email with helpful information from parenting experts, moms, dads and doctors. It features a Main Course section, which provides insight and guidance into raising healthy kids, as well as a Dessert section, which helps parents connect with their children in conversation — a great part of family dinner or a sweet way to end the day as a busy parent.

So while the traditional methods of prevention still ring true for many families and teens, it’s important to think of other avenues, such as those mentioned above, as additional support and ways in which to connect with your kids. It’s all about keeping up with the times and keeping your kids drug-free and living happy, healthy lives.

For more tips on talking with your kids and keeping them drug-free, visit