Online Safety Tips for Your Kids

Online Safety Tips for Your Kids: Why They are Important Now More than Ever
Parents have been getting advice about safety and the internet since it first entered homes in the early 90s. But with the surge of social media, and school becoming virtual all over the country, knowing how to protect your child and their identity online is more important than it ever has been before. Want to, but do not know where to start? Here are a few tips to help ease your mind.

  1. Know What Features Apps, Websites, and Social Media already have in place: Several large social platforms have parental restrictions already built into their settings. This can very from restricting screen time, disabling direct messengers, and even the content your child is able to access. An array of platforms like TikTok, Instagram, Netflix, Facebook, all have pages set up for you to go through and click on the boundaries you want to set for safety.
  2. Don’t Assume Something is Safe: For most people, resources like Zoom and Google Classroom are assumed to be ok. As we have recently seen in the media, Zoom and similar digital conference calls can be hacked. Learn what you can about your child’s new virtual classroom from Google community and other resources, so that you will be better prepared if something looks fishy.
  3. Try to Be Involved…or at Least Around: Being around your children 24/7 is pretty much impossible. And with demanding work schedules, spending time all the time you want to with your child is not always a possibility, either. However, if and when you can, consider trying to be involved when they are starting a new activity, even if you think it is something silly, like TikTok dance routines or playing Fortnite. Not only will you be supporting your child’s habits, but by being around them when they are using the internet, you can learn, reshape, and create safe computer habits with and for them.
  4. Keep Lines of Communication Open: Most of us know that our children are not perfect, but if you can recall your childhood: it was not so easy to fess up to doing things you knew were wrong. Sometimes, if a child does not know if something is wrong, unethical, unsafe, etc., they will err on the side of it being wrong to avoid any form of discipline. With that being said, it is pivotal that your child understands that they can approach you with any questions or concerns about behaviors or problems they may have encountered on the computer.

The average age a child gets their first private social media account is 12. Over 60% of preteens and over 80% of teenagers have at least two or more social media accounts. The average American child between eight and eighteen spends more than seven hours or more in front of a screen (without schoolwork). In summary: it is highly unlikely that you can 100% protect your child from screens and screen time, but making the necessary steps to watch out for their safety can make all the difference in their digital and physical reality.

Ways to Help Your Child with Anxiety

One of the hardest things as of late for families around the world is how they have been able to adapt to the perimeters put upon them from the Coronavirus. Things seem to be changing on a daily, if not—an hourly—basis. As adults, we have tried our best to put on a brave face and go with the flow as best as we can; changing how we work, how we shop, how we communicate, how we stayed entertained, and even how we greet (or talk to) loved ones. Here are as some ways to help an anxious child through these times.

Adults are not the only folks being affected by all of these changes. The Coronavirus has made children change the routines and lifestyle they are accustomed to. Some children (just like some adults) amaze us at their ability to roll with the punches. But this is not all children, and as caretakers and parents, we have to acknowledge our youth’s struggles to help with it.

  1. Acknowledge what is Happening: Validating the recent changes to your child’s life can make all the difference. It can help to make a list of things that have stayed the same (dinner every night at the table, still getting tucked in, being able to play in the backyard, being able to talk to their teachers) and making a list of things that have changed (attending festivities digitally instead of in person, going to school virtually, how close or far we have to stay away from people). By acknowledging their feelings, it will make them feel less alone, because they will know that they are not the only one that is noticing that things are not how they were, even just a few weeks ago.
  • Deal with your Own Anxiety before Tackling your Children’s: Children pick up on much more than we give them credit for. Because they learned to read emotions before verbal communication, they are incredible at picking up on their parents’ emotions. Process how you feel about things and try to figure out how you are coping with those feelings, before talking to your child about them. It is ok to tell your children that you do not know the answers to certain things or that sometimes, you feel scared too. But try to go in calmly to discuss how you are doing in the situation. Think about it like riding on an airplane, they always tell you to put on your own air mask before helping others with theirs. This is not a selfish or self-serving tip, but rather, it is pertinent advice: if you are breathing properly, you can save a lot more individuals.
  • Teach children Mindfulness Techniques: Teaching your child how to be mindful of their tension, and what to do about it, can be extraordinarily helpful during these times. For mindfulness tips, there are several resources online. The University of Washington made a template for you to read to your children to help them practice muscle relaxation. There are also several free online videos to aid you on Youtube or on other sources like GoZen.
  • Create a Visual Schedule: Having a predictable environment can make all the difference for a child, especially if that child is prone to anxiety. One way to help your children feel less anxious is to create a visual routine for them to see depicting the routine of the day to day. It doesn’t need to be complex or elaborate. It can be as simple as four-six things you do on a daily basis, such as eating meals, story time, bedtime, etc. Having the visual will remind your child that there is still a schedule, and therefore, some consistency, throughout their days and weeks. 

 Times can be tough, but having a plan in place can make things easier on both you and your little ones. Make sure you are taking care of yourself as well, and remember that there are several resources online and in person if you need help or guidance with this and other issues brought on the Coronavirus. Please always feel free to contact us if you are in need of assistance or need help looking for resources.


Start Simple with MyPlate Food Planning during the Coronavirus Pandemic

During a pandemic, you may be taking extra precautions to keep you and your family safe and prepared, including making sure you have everything you need at home. This guide contains information on food planning, including what to buy, how much to buy, and preparation tips.

Check what you have at home first

Take a look at the foods you already have in your refrigerator, freezer, and pantry before you make a list; make sure to look at expiration dates and best by dates. This can help you plan meals around what you already have, and will help you limit the number of trips to the grocery store and avoid spending money on items you don’t need.

Make a shopping list

Shopping may feel more stressful at this time. Make a list ahead of time to stay focused, get the items you need, and keep your shopping trip short. Since stores may not have some specific items, create a list with general items like “fruit” or “bread.”

Explore your shopping options

Many grocery stores offer in-store pickup, curbside pickup, or delivery. Third party options also exist for grocery store delivery. You may find these services helpful during times of social distancing. If you are older, check if your store delivers or has early shopping hours for older Americans only.

How much should I buy?

Buy what you and your family need at this time, and resist the urge to buy in much larger quantities.

Prepare a shopping list that will cover you and everyone in your household for 2 weeks.

Include fresh, frozen, and non-perishable items

Plan for a mix of fresh, frozen, and shelf-stable foods. Eat your fresh food first. Stock your freezer and pantry with items you can eat in the second week and beyond.

What foods should I buy?

Choose a mix of shelf-stable, frozen, and fresh foods. Examples of shelf-stable include pastas, rice, legumes, nut butters, and dried and canned goods. Frozen options to think about might be breads, meats, vegetables, fruits, and even milk. With fresh foods, buy a variety in quantities that you would normally buy. Remember to include the special needs of all family members, including pets, infants, or those with dietary restrictions.

What should I make?

While everyone is home together, you may feel inclined to try a new recipe or experiment with new flavors to keep things interesting. For others, sticking to simple items or familiar foods and tastes provides comfort. Plan what works for you and your family.

Access to food while school is closed

Many school districts across the country are continuing to provide meals to students in need during school closures. Check for local programs in your area, such as Meals to You. Contact your local school to learn about meals that may be available through pop-up food systems, grab-and-go meal pickups, or school bus routes.

Additional Food Planning Resources:

Tips for Every Aisle

Use these tips to fill your cart with budget-friendly and healthy options from each food group.

Sample 2-Week Menus

These sample 2-week menus can be used by any person or family wanting to follow a healthy diet at a modest price.

MyPlate Plan

To learn about your food group targets, use the personalized MyPlate Plan tool.

Activities for Families at Home:

MyPlate: Activities to do with Kids

Activities and printables to get the whole family on board with making healthier choices.

Team Nutrition Cooks!

Cooking-based nutrition activities for children ages 8-12 years old.

Team Nutrition Games & Activities

Make your way through all the food groups with these fun games and activities.

Contact information:

For solutions to feeding children impacted by COVID-19, email FeedingKids@usda.gov.

For more information about Coronavirus:

Coronavirus.gov

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

What the U.S. Government is Doing

Spanish: https://www.usa.gov/espanol/coronavirus Ready.gov