From our contributor: Modern Boca Social Mom
The internet is a wonderful thing, but it can also be a very scary thing when it comes to the safety of our children. It’s important to have internet safety tips for parents.
I often struggle with how to teach my kids how to have fun with the online world and at the same time, be cautious. My daughter Ella loves to watch YouTube videos on her iPad. Mostly she watches other kids playing games she likes or cartoons.
One day she asked if she could watch My Little Pony videos. I set up the search for her and Voila! She was happily watching Rainbow Dash fly through the sky. The next video that played showed kids playing with My Little Pony dolls. But then the videos began to veer off topic…
One video showed real ponies happily prancing around. No harm there. Then the next video had nothing to do with ponies at all and well…it was totally inappropriate. Luckily, I was right there to intercept the iPad and Ella was clueless.
Gone are the days where we can keep the family computer in the family room and watch over our children as they search online. Now there are portable devices that are portals to the World Wide Web.
My niece just turned 12 and is constantly on her iPod using Pic Collage and Video Star. She isn’t allowed to post anything online, but of course, her friends are all doing it (so she says) and she wants to do it too. Her mother warned her that even when she posts something anonymously, it is possible for someone to find out things about her.
Her response was a sarcastic, “Yeah…right” followed by an eye roll. After witnessing that, I was not so excited for the teen years with my own kids. We as parents definitely have to be ‘not so cool’ sometimes.
So how do we give our children access to the internet AND still keep them safe?
Here are some tips:
With YouTube, it is best if you set up a separate account for your child and set the filter to strict. But beware; it is still very easy for things to seep through those filters. It is always a good idea to monitor your children while they are browsing YouTube.
Follow age restrictions on sites like Facebook. Right now the minimum age to sign up is 13. You might think it isn’t a big deal for your child to have an account, but there are ads that pop up that are not suitable for children. Plus, some private information could be given to advertisers. It is also a violation of Facebook’s terms to provide false information for a Facebook account.
Place time restrictions on your child’s internet use and discuss internet usage rules with them. This will make it easier for them to know what is expected and for you to watch what they are doing. You can set up your computer to block certain websites and block out the internet completely.
Communication is key. When your children are old enough to start using social media, educate them on the correct way to use it. Be sure they know what cyber bulling is and what to do if they feel like it is happening to them or someone they know.
If your child has been begging for their own email, a perfect solution is KidsEmail.org. This site enables you to receive a copy of all incoming and outgoing email that is sent to or from your child. You can also set time restrictions, block specific people and it offers a GPS tracker on their mobile app. Parents love using Kids Email because it allows their children to use technology in a safe environment. Kids Email allows your child to e-mail their Grandparents and friends and you, as the parent, have the peace of mind that they won’t see anything inappropriate.