Technology can be a wonderful help in today’s world, but it can also be dangerous. Fortunately there are some things you can do to reduce the opportunities your kid will have to explore areas of the internet that they shouldn’t.
Think through some of the issues first
- Filters & Software — What kinds of filters do you have on the technology you allow your kids to use? How often do you check or get reports about your kids’ activity online?
- Developmentally Appropriate Access — At what age do you allow your kids to use a computer, tablet, apps on a phone or get on the Internet? What are they mature enough to handle?
Spend time with your kids on the computer/tablet
Discover what your kids do on the computer/internet and engage them.
Talk to your kids
It is always good to know what your children are doing online and to have some guidelines to keep them safe. Here are some basics to think through:
- Apps — What apps do you allow your kids to download? What kind of parameters do you have on in-app purchases? Do you maintain control of the passwords for accessing downloads?
- People — What ongoing conversations are you having about who they connect with online? What people/friends have they connected with through games and social media?
- Private information — What guidelines have you established about what they are allowed to share or not share online? How should they respond when asked for information that shouldn’t be shared? How do they know when a site is secure?
- Places — What kinds of sites/topics can your kids visit without permission and what sites require an okay from you?
- Photos — What kinds of photos are your kids allowed to post online/social media? What permissions do kids need to get before posting photos of others? What settings should be checked on smartphones before posting photos so that the location of the photos is not inadvertently revealed?
- Politeness — What protocol have you established with your children about respecting others in their online communications? What do they know about online jargon?
- Purchases — What kinds of purchases does your family make online? What are the parameters for your children ordering items?
- Pirating — What do your children know about downloading books or films from sites that do it illegally? What do they know about sharing music with each other?
- Phishing — What orientation have you given your children about dealing with emails/attachments from people they don’t know? Here is help from the US Trade Commission.
Dr. Jodi Gold, the author of Screen-Smart Parenting: How to Find Balance and Benefit in Your Child’s Use of Social Media, Apps, and Digital Devices, has some good samples of agreements that family members can sign. Find them in the ‘Practical Tools’ free download on that page.
Being attentive about what your kids are doing and talking about can give you insights into your child’s online activity.
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