Kids going online is a reality, whether they have permission or not. Rather than keep your head in the sand as a parent, it’s important to know what you’re up against when it comes to kids being online and their safety.
7 things parents need to know if their kids are online
There are ways to control what your children see and use online. You can download monitoring apps, as well as filter and block content from appearing on your children’s device. There is also software that allows you to limit the time spent online, and even search engines designed for kids (versus the Google we all know and love).
Privacy isn’t a given. Thanks to geotagging, location sharing and even simply entering in private details in profiles and content, privacy isn’t protected. It’s important that geolocation and location sharing are turned off on phones and devices. It’s also vital to remember that predators lurk online so details about lives, like what kids enjoy doing, etc. needs to be limited to only friends. Any kid or teen with a social media presence needs to have their profiles set to private.
Cyberbullying is common. In fact, nearly half of young people report being bullied online. Instagram, then Facebook and Snapchat are the most common sites bullying takes place. As a parent, monitor your child’s accounts. See who is commenting and what they are saying. If you notice your child being bullied, do not engage with the culprit. Instead, talk to your child about what’s going on and determine who needs to be involved in ending the bullying.
Video game ratings aren’t accurate. I saw this with Popular Wars, a video game where kids shoot up their school with the goal of being the most popular student. When determining if video games are appropriate for your child, dig deeper than the initial rating of a game. Check out reviews written by psychologists or experts to make sure the game won’t negatively impact your child, normalize violence and encourage dangerous behavior. Also, download the game yourself and play it to see if you are OK with your child playing.
Everything kids share online can be traced back to them. Even if a child posts something and then deletes it, the data remains in the platform where it was posted. Kids act impulsively and often don’t give due consideration before they post something inappropriate online. From sexting to memes that are racist, and everything in between, that content can come back to haunt them later in life. Talk to your child about what constitutes an inappropriate post and help them stay safe online, which is one of the things I teach in the Home Program.
Spending too much time online has negative effects on kids. From health issues to self-esteem issues, and more, if kids spend too much time online, it can be harmful. Set up time limits for your kids so they aren’t online 24/7. Create rules like phones or devices can’t be brought into the bedroom at night and make sure that at least some of the time spent online is enriching versus mindless.
Strangers will contact your child. Social media is essentially a big party with 3 million people online at any given time. Within those 3 million, there are some who are dangerous and will attempt to contact kids and prey on them. Remind your child to never talk to anyone online they don’t know in the real world. They should never give any information about themselves to strangers.
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