Today’s parents have to be extra diligent in keeping their kids safe and modern technology makes that job harder.
Edward Snowden spilled the beans, and everyone knows how easily accessible our online lives are to being watched and hacked. Even home security cameras, those on our phones and monitors are being used to spy on us. As a parent, it is hard to feel safe.
Even young kids have devices connected to the Internet which present unusual challenges for parents. How to keep your child safe while they use technology designed to make life easier.
Monitoring Devices & App Control
Parents lead busy lives, and you cannot monitor your children 24/7 especially their online activities. You know that there are things you want to protect them from, but you can’t be there every minute, so that is where app controls come in.
Parental controls allow parents to set limits on the sites and apps kids can use, limit screen time, block intrusions and locate devices using GPS so you can know where your kids are at all times.
There are many services and software choices you can choose from to monitor all your online devices from phones to tablets and computers around the house.
At the very least you may want to learn about the built-in parental controls for each device that allow you to block unwanted websites and access to specific areas of the Internet. Cell phone carriers also offer parents free and subscription-based tools to monitor and protect cell phones on your account.
If your child is getting repeat, unwanted calls from a number you do not recognize, you can do a background check using that phone number to find out exactly who it is and if they are a potential sex offender or someone dangerous.
PC Usage and Internet Control
Cyberstalking is a real threat that children now face in our modern society. Cyberstalking is considered a misdemeanor under U.S. law unless threats of bodily harm are made or communicated to a child below the age of 16 then it jumps to a felony charge.
It may seem that cell phones present the real danger but online connections from anywhere, even home computers still need to be protected to keep our kids safe.
Norton and other security companies offer a whole suite of tools to blocks sites with inappropriate content, language you don’t want your kids to be exposed to and other dangers.
At the very least you will want a content filter, but some other nice to haves are timers to limit computer time, app blockers to prevent kids from downloading specific apps that may have dangerous or unwanted content and schedule computer time to restrict access during specific times of the day.
Some services like NetNanny also allow you to remotely access the computer from work or when you are out. These parental controls will also send you notifications of activities you have set up as things you want to be monitored.
Monitor Messages and Social Media
One of the most significant dangers that teens face is cyberbullying via text and social media. Although you want to respect the privacy of older kids, you also want to make sure they are safe. Allow them to set up accounts with the caveat that you will be monitoring text messages and social media activity. Let them know why you are doing this, not to spy on them but to make sure they are not engaging with anyone who might want to do them harm.
Communication is Your Best Defense
Even with all the parental controls in the world, your best defense is going to be communicating with your kids. If they know the dangers themselves and know how to keep themselves safe, then your job gets a lot easier.
Teach them about responsible online behavior, what to do and what not to do and explain why these things are inappropriate or off limits. Rather than spy on your kids subversively, let them know you are keeping an eye on things because you love them and want them to stay safe but still have a good time online.