There are an increasing amount of devices that connect to the Internet. It’s important to have some visibility or a plan to manage how your children are accessing and using them. The notion of Digital Parenting is still a newer concept and tools to help you navigate are lacking. You’re left wondering how to best tackle the challenge of your kids being unmonitored and online.
Our children are growing up in an age that connects them almost immediately to millions of others on the Internet. Older generations either had no access to the Internet or limited access. Facebook didn’t even launch until 2004. If you’re in your 30s you were still in the Aol and dial up days. We’ve come a long way really fast.
Not so long ago Digital parenting meant getting kids off the phone so you could send an email. Now tens or even hundreds of devices can connect on a home network simultaneously with all of them online gaming, streaming media, and accessing social networks.
The most important thing you can do is have the right conversations with your children. Before you can do that, you need to educate yourself on what’s important and how certain things work on the Internet. You won’t be able to provide advice if you haven’t taken the time to learn or take any interest in it. Your kids will take interest in it even if you don’t. Snapchat and sexting may be a foreign concept to you, but it will likely be part of your kids life at one point or another. Have you ever heard of Fortnite? Your kid has! Here is a cool website to track Google Trends where you can see top search terms. Here’s another one for YouTube Searches. Quickly and easily see what’s going on in the world of the Internet. It’s not a bad idea to made a little habit out of checking news about online trends, the latest games, and the latest apps. Take an interest in what they’re doing on their Internet connected devices. You may notice some activities that are questionable.
Have Conversations With Your Kids
This comes second and although it’s the most important, you do first need to educate yourself so you know what to say to your children. Discuss the dangers of the Internet. It doesn’t need to be negative but it is important to be direct and ensure they understand the dangers and what can go wrong. Touch on the positive nature of the Internet too. You may have the stance with your children that it’s always ok to be on the Internet if you’re using it as a productive tool to learn but set limits for social and/or games.
Your kids need to know the rules. Make sure they verbally understand what they can and cannot do on the Internet. If something is outside of the rules that are set, they should be instructed to ask you. Good categories to set rules around are,
- How much time can be spent online browsing, reading, watching YouTube, being on Social Networks, etc.?
- What categories can you browse to and what to avoid?
- When is bedtime?
- What should they do if they want to download an app or program?
- Can they stream themselves or post video of themselves?
- Are they allowed to accept incoming friend requests from anyone?
Use Parental Control
You need central visibility and control. Apple provides some good tools for parental controls but not nearly enough as everything you would need to ensure the right things are happening and your children aren’t at risk. Some companies are coming out of the woodworks, including Dteckt, and developing effective technology and parental controls as they understand the importance of securely connecting to the Internet. Even if you trust your children, there are upwards of 3 billion other people on the Internet that have access to them. It’s never a bad idea to have strong security controls in place on devices and help manage screen time.
Stay Close To Your Kids
You can be your child’s friend on Social Networks and Online Games. Having a good relationship online is good for your child’s digital well being. Don’t stalk them though. It’s a very quick way for them to isolate you and hide what they want. If your child is more tech savvy than you there are more than likely ways they can hide things if they want to hide things. Don’t betray trust, nag, or lecture your child’s friends. You’ll lose them quickly.
Be A Role Model
Are you a text and drive person? Do you browse inappropriate content? Do you play online games for 10 hours a day? Do you use your device at dinner? What you do, they probably will too.