By Cheryl Coleman
Research shows that 76% of children own a smartphone which makes it easy for them to go online and search or look at whatever pops up on the internet. What does that mean for parents? It means that we need to be more deliberate now more than ever about checking our children’s online access as one way of keeping them safe.
Here are five ways to keep your children safe in an environment where access to unsafe things are readily available and easily accessible:
- Don’t be afraid to monitor your child’s cell phone and/or tablet. Granted you’ll probably hear “Why are you going through my stuff? Why are you snooping?” Keep in mind that while it may feel like you are invading their privacy, you are actually keeping them safe. Sit down with your child and have a conversation where you explain why are you are monitoring their telephone texts, emails, browsing history, etc. And then, explain your rules of social media and online usage. Let them know it’s all for their safety.
- Check their bedrooms. Did you live in a household where your mother routinely went through your room or things to stay abreast of what could be going on in your life? Well, it’s time to pull out those old rules and actions. Remember safety is key and one way to do that is to have spot checks in your child’s room.
- Supervise where your children are and who they associate with. Again, this action isn’t a new phenomenon. It’s something that many of us grew up with. Know and understand who your children’s friends are and most importantly, always know where your children are when they are out of your presence.
- Teach your children not to share. Eek! How could I suggest such a thing?! Well, when you’re talking about passwords, pictures, home address, and other personal information, my rule of thumb is DO NOT SHARE.
- App responsibility. My daughter is in middle school and she loves using different apps on her mobile phone such as musical.ly and although I know she uses the app appropriately, there are people who will try to talk to your child about inappropriate content. Other apps include chat rooms that where children need to be careful and aware of the possibility of pedophiles or other people who prey on children and students.
There are a number of free parental control apps that you can download that give you the ability to control browsing time, text messaging, social media activity and emails. It’s totally up to you if you want to monitor your child’s usage or if you just want to continue to have open communication with your child or if you want to do both. One good thing about the app is you can monitor it as much as you want in your own time.
Although the world is slightly different then when I was growing up because we didn’t have all this technology, one thing that is still the same is our parents worried about our well-being the same way we worry about our children.