Our children are considered “digital natives,” they have been born into and are being raised in the digital world. Today’s kids are using technology for communication, education and fun. Kids can also easily gain access to parts of the tech world that may be dangerous or simply inappropriate.
Unfortunately, we have a very long way to go when it comes to safety in our new digital world. While we can’t keep our children 100% safe from the evils of technology, there are resources and tools to help us protect our tech savvy kids.
First, set boundaries and create “Tech Havens” where your child can and can’t go with devices or with a computer. Our boys know that devices and computers are not allowed in their rooms or at the kitchen table. We have study and computer spaces in open living areas of our home.
Child Protection Software:
If necessary, you can put security measures in place with software. Protection software not only tracks internet use but also allows you to block sites using custom filter levels. When your child wants to visit a website you will receive an email and you can approve the website with a simple click. The best software will protect computers, smartphones and tablets.
Know Your Settings
Parents have a plethora of security tools available to them on almost every device. Take advantage of the security settings on your computer and other devices. Apple products are usually the best when it comes to protecting children via computers, they allow you to set what your children can and can’t access on an iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad.
1. Go to your Settings, tap on General and scroll down to Restrictions.
3. Disable any functions you do not want your child to have access, disable explicit content and or choose a rating by age for content.
Monitor your child’s accounts and be informed.
We must commit to do whatever is necessary to protect our children, this includes monitoring our children’s online activity. If your children are using interactive games or social media outlets, do you check to see who they follow and more importantly, who’s following them? I have been shocked to see some of the “Adult” accounts that follow children on sites like Instagram. Are their accounts set to private or are they public for all to see? Do you have passwords to your children’s games and social networks? Do you know what games your children are playing online? Many of these games have chat capabilities, chat that may seem safe, but how would we know who they are chatting with?
Have frequent and ongoing discussions about online safety.
Talk to your children often and early about the dangers of technology and appropriate behavior online.
The answer is smart parenting and open communication. Knowledge is power, if parents are informed, the use of technology will be a much safer experience for all.
My segment on WAFB Channel 9 on Tech Savvy Teen Safety
A parent’s guide to your tech savvy teen