If you’re a parent of a young child or tween, it’s highly probable your child has a smart device. I would surmise your child is a pretty savvy online navigator and is often your family tech go-to. I would speculate your child does much of her homework online or within/on an app. I would also guess some of your child’s free time is on his device. However, remember your child is a child and should begin his or her foray into the cyber gaming, social media and app world with family discussions and guidelines for safe online habits. For starters:
- Have your child be online in common rooms where you as a parent have viewing access anytime. This means not in your child’s room where she can close or hide a screen quickly. Stress that staying safe online begins when devices are in your sight and you can help guide your child if needed.
- Install parental control filtering and tracking software such as NetNanny or Safe Eyes.
- Make sure your child keeps passwords protected and to himself. Never give passwords out to friends, even to best friends. This could accidentally spiral out of control very quickly. You as a parent should be the only one who has access to your child’s passwords.
- When opening social media accounts for your children, make sure they’re set up as private accounts where requests must be made to approve the follower or friend. If an unknown request is made, have your child to show the request to you, and then you can determine whether the request is appropriate or not. If the request is not appropriate talk with your child about why and how it’s important to be on the lookout for requests like these.
- Emphasize the importance of never giving out/texting personal information online to friends, no matter who the friend is. Unfortunately it’s too easy to for predators to hack accounts. Besides, friends talk to friends, live and in person about birthdays, favorite colors and other personal information.
- Establish rules and limits of setting up and using multiple social media accounts.
- Whether your child has one or several social media accounts, keep it open that you may follow or friend him within these accounts.
- Look at and discuss with your child the gaming apps he is using, and the appropriateness regarding age and possible violence.
- Make turning off geotagging and location indicators within apps and on social media accounts the first thing you do when setting up. It is so easy for predators to just click a couple of location pins and find out where someone is and what time of day something is done.
Most importantly, have frequent conversations with your child about safe online habits, and make sure you know what’s going on in his or her online world. Your number one concern is your child’s safety and that’s a cool thing.