We are warned time and again that the more involved we get with our kids the less likely they are to get into major trouble. The same idea applies to your kids social media and online use.
There is nothing wrong with taking steps to safeguard your children’s online use just as much as you would safeguard your children at home, at school or in public. You wouldn’t let your kids go to a sleepover party without a Parent there or a school dance with no chaperone, so why would you let your children be exposed to social media and the world wide web without a guardian looking after them as well? By getting more involved and better informed with their tech life you can help them avoid the hazards in this area of their lives as well.
My two sons are about to enter into Jr. High and I am terrified. I feel so out of my depth sometimes with the new issues they are facing that I never had to deal with in my youth. I didn’t even start using the internet until I was in college. I had never even heard of the words cyber bullying or cyber crime until recently. Now, toddlers are even using computers, tablets and phones and kids are exposed to massive amounts of outside influences and information. As overwhelming as it all can be we can’t just cut them off from all this technology because that wouldn’t be good for them either. Learning to navigate social media responsibly and discerning information on the web is an important skill. What we can do is try to find ways to be more involved in their online usage and help keep them safe as they navigate this new part of their lives.
KidGuard is an online service for parents to help monitor your kids calls, text, photos, apps and other online activity from the convenience of your phone or computer. They have a lot of helpful resources, services and information on how to get more involved and help protect your kids against cyberbullying, predators, sexting, child extortion and also how to talk to your kids about these serious subjects. I really liked their tips on “Seven Safety Reminders” for your child and A Parents Survival Guide To Online Safety. I think its important to talk to your kids about each one of these points and bring them up periodically to keep them fresh on their minds. Even printing these tips out and posting them by the computer is a good idea.
7 Online Safety Reminder For Your Child: GPS Location, Privacy Settings & More
1. Make sure your privacy setting are set so only your close friends and family see your personal information.
2. If its too good to be true, it probably is.
3. Don’t give out personal information online
4. Turn off GPS location settings on your phone before posting to online social media.
5. Change your password every once in a while and make sure its not an easy one.
6. Don’t talk to anyone online you don’t know, and tell your parent right away if a stranger contacts you.
7. Remind your kid that once they post something online, they can’t take it back even if they delete it.
Its always easier if you start right off by talking about expectations, rules, and concerns before you even give your kid their first phone or access to their own social media accounts. You can let them know that having this kind of technology is serious and a big responsibility. This is also a great opportunity to talk to your child about the online hazards there are and how you want to help make sure they do not become victims of cyber bullying and online predators.
KidGuard even suggest writing up a phone contract with your child that they can sign. I really like this idea because it empowers both the kid and the parents while also keeping things clearly drawn out. It also helps the child not feel violated or spied on if everyone is in agreement. This phone contract can stipulates all the rules and expectations to having a phone and can also include a monitoring agreement. So in order to receive the privilege of having a phone they also agree to be chaperoned on that phone so that you as their parent can keep an eye out for any warning signs that might arise.
Its so important that we get involved in our kids online activity more than ever. We can do simple things like being friends with our kids on all their social media accounts, taking the time to learn the slang and silly abbreviations to be able to read the teen text, or setting up a text monitoring service to receive information and alerts on your kids online activities. The world is becoming digitized and its vital to embrace the technology that comes with it but we can also be smart about it and take careful and thoughtful steps to safeguard our home and our children.