Protecting Your Children in the Digital Age

Posted in Uncategorized on May 29, 2017.

The rise of the internet and digital technology has revolutionized our lives. Our children cannot fathom a day when you had to read directions with a paper map, let alone pick up the phone and call to order a pizza. While the web has made life easier, it’s also full of dangers, especially for children. It’s also hard for parents to constantly monitor what their teens, preteens, and even young children are doing online.

Keeping your children safe in the digital age is essential. Here are some tips to get you started.

  1. Talk About It.

When it comes to digital conduct, an open dialogue is the best approach. Don’t lecture or make your child feel ashamed about what they post online, but do provide guidance about what is and is not appropriate to share. Make sure they know what goes online, stays online. This applies even to social media phenomena like Snapchat.

It’s also worth perusing social media privacy guidelines and making sure your children have settings that only allow them to share with friends. Talk to your kids about the possible dangers of sharing photos and other personal information publicly.

  1. Set Parental Controls

The decision to set parental controls and monitor internet history is unique to each family. Remember, setting these controls doesn’t mean you don’t trust your children, even though they might see it that way. Take the time to explain why you set guidelines in the first place.

While you’re at it, set family boundaries about internet and mobile technology use. When can your kids use their gadgets? Only on the weekends? For an hour after they’ve done their homework? Your approach may differ from other families, and that’s OK. Just make a rule, and stick to it.

  1. Be Proactive and Involved

Educating your child about safe online use is one thing, but staying involved is equally important. Depending on the age of your child, it might be wise to use the internet with them, so you can monitor the sites they visit and the apps they use on their phones. For older children, consider having a meeting at the end of each day and discuss what they did online. This helps you keep tabs on their activity so you can point out troublesome activity as it occurs, rather than when it spins out of control.

At the same time, some within the parenting circle think that installing tracking software on your child’s phone or computer is a violation of trust. According to these parents, this may lead to a sense of betrayal, and your children may hesitate to share information with you in the future. However, each parent should do what they feel works for their family.

  1. Be a Good Role Model

Your kids look up to you and model your actions, even if they don’t always show it (yes, even your teenagers). This means they also pay attention to what you do and say online. Set a good example by only posting things that you would be okay with your children posting. Be polite in online discussions and don’t put anyone down.

This also means it’s important to show your children there’s more to life than what’s online. Take time away from your mobile device or computer to cook, play outside, or enjoy a non-virtual hobby.

The bottom line: if you don’t want your children to do it, you shouldn’t be doing it either.

Set aside family time and let your family enjoy non-cyber time together. Remember, being online makes life convenient and more fun, but in a family there’s no replacement for face-to-face interaction.