Like it or not, kids today are connected and there are real dangers online. Here are four tips to keep your kids safe online!
In a recent survey by the YMCA, 64 percent of parents said that during the summer their kids spent three or more hours a day online. According to a national survey by Common Sense Media, American teens absorb an average of nine hours of entertainment and social media a day. While this number may (or may not) go down during the school year, like it or not kids today are connected.
While we can’t eliminate all of the risks, here are some tips to keep your kids safe online.
1. Have the Smart Talk
The National PTA and LifeLock created The Smart Talk. This is a free, online tools that helps families set the ground rules for technology use. For our family, it was a great way for me to sit down with the boys and have an open conversation about online safety and responsibility.
My boys are not the most worldly of kids, and before this conversation, I’m not sure that they fully understood that their identity and well-being could be compromised by their online behavior. I love that The Smart Talk gave me the structure to help them learn the rules for navigating life online.
This guided conversation covers online safety and privacy; screen time; apps and downloads; texting and calling; and social media and respect. In the end we had a printable contract that holds all of us accountable.
Since the boys aren’t on social media yet, we will be revising The Smart Talk down the road to keep the conversation evolving as they age and technology changes.
2. Activate Parental Controls on Family Computers and Devices
Until recently, I was guilty of saying “My boys wouldn’t do that” so we don’t need parental controls.
Yes, I can be naive.
The more I started reading about online safety, the more I realized that the threats out there are very real. Young children are being exposed to pornography, self-harm, gaming and more and sometimes these can lead to very real problems.
Setting up parental controls on computers is critical.
Right now, Net Nanny works for us. But once the boys are on social media, we will be looking at the UKnowKids app, which will deliver us regular reports of their online activity. These will be perfect to keep the conversation we started with The Smart Talk Going.
3. Ask Them to Share
I think we’ve all seen this quote.
I will be the first to admit that this is something I have struggled with through the years. I am not a detail person, and both boys have always loved to tell me – in excruciating detail – every intricacy of any new toy they had and every detail of the video game they play. We are talking play by play.
These days, I’m using this to my advantage by asking them to show me the apps they are using and the games they are playing. It is a great way for me to make sure I am aware of what they are doing and to have conversations about things like violence and adult material.
4. Don’t Forget About Cyberbullying
As parents, we want to protect our kids. As wonderful as technology is, it also leaves our children more vulnerable than ever to bullying. According to Rob Zidar, co-founder of ThirdParent, an internet safety firm “The Internet and smartphones have enabled bullies to follow their target all the time and also broadcast threats and cruelty to a large audience.”
The Smart Talk was the perfect way for me to have this conversation with the boys. I let them know in no uncertain terms, that we would not tolerate bullying. They also know that if anything ever comes up where they are the victim of bullying that I will have their back and they don’t have to be embarrassed to share with me.
Have you had The Smart Talk with your kids? If you haven’t I highly encourage it! I would love to hear your favorite tips to keep your kids safe online.
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.