When I was a kid, the internet was just starting to get big. Back then, AOL, Yahoo, instant messenger and dial up internet were all the rage. Unfortunately, parents were not aware of the dangers back then, and there are an even greater number of dangers today. With the expansion of the internet comes greater access to the good and the bad. There is a fine line between allowing your children to use the internet as a tool and keeping them safe. To help your kids safely navigate the internet, use these 10 internet safety tips for Smart Moms.
- Limit individualized access. Tablets and handheld devices are great for when you’re on the road or need to share computer access. However, this is a breeding ground for kids to go where they are not supposed to go on the internet. If trust is an issue, you can download programs that will allow you to view history and usage. If you are interested in doing this, Mobicip is a company that provides the ability to set parental controls and monitor usage on computers, tablets and smartphones.
- Technology should be used in an open space. Along with hand held devices, try to have the family computer, whether a desktop or a laptop, in view of everyone. This will help kids feel like they are “in the open”, avoiding pitfalls of visiting certain sites.
- Set parental controls. Each child can have their own username on a computer, which entails parental controls on them. This way when they log in to their username, sites that are rated as inappropriate will be blocked.
- Use more than one password. Set a password on every device. Trust me, the kids will figure out your password. So, try using more than one.
- Set your child’s account to private. Your child’s accounts should never be public. Access should only be granted, not an open invitation. This will give them the ability to reject and block strangers.
- Know your child’s password on their social media accounts. This may seem like a “big brother” move, but it is a smart move. There have been numerous reports recently of cyber bullying with tragic consequences. If parents have access to their child’s accounts, they will be more likely to know if something inappropriate is happening.
- Make sure you are “friends” with your child on social media. Especially on Instagram. This is a less invasive way to monitor what they are posting and will give you an open dialogue about people who are commenting.
- Set time limits. Screen time should be limited late at night. A rule of thumb would be to shut things down at 8:00PM except for school assignments or phone calls. This will also help your child go to sleep at night, as screen time keeps the mind more awake and aware.
- “Like” their posts. This is a subtle reminder that you see what they are posting. It is not meant to be an overbearing action, but a virtual hand squeeze that you are around.
- Discuss using the internet openly. Despite all of the safeguards, your child will probably experience something inappropriate on the internet. According to CNN, the average age that a child sees pornography is now ten years old. How you handle this issue is exclusive to your family. You can discuss the dangers of predators, and clicking on links that may not be appropriate for them. By doing this, if a circumstance does arise, they are more likely to talk to you about it. Although you may feel like an overbearing parent, remaining calm and accepting will help keep the discussion line open between you and your child.
Remember that the internet is a tool. Employing these safety tips will help you and your child navigate and benefit from this connected world.
Have questions about toddlers and technology? We have some answers.