(Note from Kat: Today’s post is from my friend, and monthly contributor, Liz Griffin)
Can we all just take a moment and freak out about the fact that it is already OCTOBER?!?!?! Wowzers, it snuck up on me. Anyone else relate?
School is now in full swing and that means homework. Which means our kids are spending even more time on computers and online. For many parents that is a scary thing. Identity theft, cyber-bullying, and online predators are very real dangers.
However, there are a lot of simple things we can do as a parents to make the internet a much safer place for our kids.
Recently I had to do a lot of research on how to keep kids safe online for a campaign I was helping with. Being the generous soul that I am, I decided to pass on this helpful info to you fine mamas today.
10 Ways To Protect Your Kids Online
1. Don’t let you children use the internet when you are not there. If your kids are older and have phones then this is a bit harder to enforce. However, a general rule is that if a device is online the parent should be able to see the screen.
2. Talk about clear boundaries and expectations. Spend time setting guidelines for how the internet will be used in your home. What sites are allowed to be visited and how will social media accounts be managed? Be clear about what your kids are allowed to post and the consequence will be if kids don’t follow the rules.
3. Limit time spent online. Bored kids wasting time online is never a good thing. Decide how much time your kids can be online and stick to it.
4. Know what social media your kids use and have access to their passwords. If your kids are going to have an account on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or whatever else, then you should be able to see what they are posting and what is being sent on their private messages.
5. Teach kids how to recognize ads and not click on them. Younger kids can often stumble across unwanted content by accidentally clicking on an ad. Teach your kids how recognize ads or pop-ups and how to close them properly. This also reduces the risk of them accidentally opening something that contains a virus.
6. Change photo settings. When locator services are turned “on” in your camera settings, you are telling someone exactly where that picture was taken. Before you share that adorable picture on Instagram, make sure you aren’t sharing more than you intend to. You can watch this video for more information on how to post photos safely.
7. Regularly check your kids social media friends. Look at the people your kids are friends with online. Browse their pictures and posts. If you have any concerns talk to your kids about it.
8. Put internet filters on your computer. There are some great options out there that will block unwanted websites, images or other material that you don’t want your children to see. Installing a filter is a great way to protect your kids!
If you have older kids and want to monitor what they are looking at online, I recommend Covenant Eyes.
Net Nanny is a great parental controls software to install on your family’s computer, tablets or phones.
9. Tell your kids to report anyone asking them for their personal information online. Make sure your kids know that it is not normal for someone, even another kid, to ask for personal information over social media or email. Let them know to tell you if anyone asks them for details about your family.
10. Invest in real life relationships. Making sure that your kids learn how to build solid friendships with others is essential. When kids have a positive peer support group in place they are far less likely to be affected by cyber-bullying or online predators.
Our kids will grow up with the internet being a very real part of their world, and that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. We have the opportunity as parents to teach them appropriate ways to navigate their online lives.
How does your family handle online activities? Do you have any other tips or suggestions to share? Click here to tell us and join the discussion!
Elizabeth is a church planter, speaker, writer and naptime abolitionist. She lives in Texas with her husband and two little kids. Her other hobbies include wasting time on social media, trying to remember where she parked her car & browsing Pinterest for DIY projects she will never actually make. You can visit her over at Lark & Bloom or on twitter @larkandbloom.