While parents can protect their children from burglars and intruders using physical products like Nightlock Door Barricade, alarms, and security systems, keeping them safe in the virtual world is much more tricky. And, now that school is out for many students, they will have a lot more free time, and much of that free time will be spent online. An important part of your home security that needs to be addressed is online safety.
So, how can you, as a parent, keep your kids safe on the world wide web without monitoring their every move?
In order to make sure they are staying safe, like anything else they do, there should be rules in place when it comes to their online activity. And, while all these rules may not be right for every family, it’s a great place to start. So, pick and choose one or two or any combination of more that will work best for your family.
They may not like it, but be their friend on Facebook, Instagram, or any other social sites they may be on and always make sure they haven’t blocked what you can see. Make sure they know that this rule isn’t put in place so you can embarrass or spy on your child, but simply so you are aware if they are engaging in any dangerous activities such as online bullying or can see if they themselves are being bullied. Keep your word and don’t lose their trust by embarrassing them.
Designated Device Spot
Have a curfew and designated return spot for all devices so that kids aren’t left unsupervised for long periods of time. While laptops and iPads are great for homework, set a time that all devices must be returned by and have a spot, in a high traffic area, where they must be returned to. Parents may even choose to then secure those overnight. This curfew not only helps with safety, but it ensures kids aren’t over using devices and forces them to do something else before bed such as read or even hang out with the family.
Know Their Passwords
A stipulation for kids of a certain age having a device of any sort should be that the parents always know the password on that device. If at any point you can’t open it, the device gets taken away for a certain amount of time. This rule can be altered as kids get older and earn the trust of their parents, or tightened if they lose that trust by abusing privileges.
Talk to your child. There’s no need to set aside specific times to talk about safety, as this may seem like a lecture and make your child feel interrogated. Simply make sure you are regularly having open and honest conversations about what is going on in your child’s life, what’s going on in the world and how your child feels about it. Mention any news stories you may have seen regarding online safety or internet bullying and find out what your child thinks. Ask what they would have done differently. Regular conversations make it more likely your child will be willing to open up if something is bothering them. And, if they don’t feel like that could open up to you, make sure they know of a trusted adult they could turn to. An aunt or uncle, a friend’s parent or a teacher could all be trusted sources for a child to turn to in an uncomfortable situation.
Also, don’t assume your child knows how to behave online. Give them rules, no matter how obvious they may seem, about giving out personal information or meeting up with people they chat with.
While we aren’t promoting spying on your child, it’s important for both parents and kids to know that there is a certain amount of risk every time anyone goes online. In order for everyone to stay safe, online time should be approached with caution.