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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.