The internet is practically a way of life for children, many of whom have been exposed to a digital device almost their whole lives. However, as familiar as today’s kids are with being online, many are unaware of the potential dangers and of general etiquette in digital life.
A monster task for today’s parents is teaching children how to safely and responsibly navigate digital space. We’ve provided a quick guide below with the top three tips highlighted in the above graphic.
Create a technology contract
Owning a smartphone is a big responsibility for a child. Drafting a tech contract with clearly stated rules, guidelines, and consequences allows you and your child to be on the same page when it comes to internet consumption. Have your child read and sign the contract, then display it somewhere visible, like the refrigerator door or a message board.
Set a good example
What’s good for the gosling is good for the goose. Parents set the example by following the same rules such as defining screen-free zones, being careful with passwords and personal information, and being a respectful digital citizen.
Stay in the loop
Stay up to speed with the latest trending apps, games, social media, and websites popular with kids and teens. Be particularly aware of unsafe apps such as anonymous apps, which can be used for cyberbullying or by internet predators (look for a future post covering anonymous apps).
Ten more online boundary pointers to follow:
- Talk with children about respecting others online. This includes no bullying, harassing, trolling, gossiping about, or shaming people.
- Don’t reveal any personal information to online strangers. This includes not taking pictures of school ID cards and credit card statements, mentioning street names and birthdates, etc.
- Don’t share passwords with anyone, even friends. This includes social media and email passwords. Your friend’s practical joke on your account may get you in trouble.
- Remember that not everyone is who they say they are online. Their new teenage friend may actually be a middle-aged sexual predator looking for a new victim.
- Anything posted online can come back to haunt you. This includes photos, social media comments, and videos. People’s careers have ended and lives have been ruined because of old posts that resurfaced.
- Indulge in screen-free activities such as sports, art, music, spending time with friends, etc.
- Set up screen-free zones at home. For example, ban smartphones from the dinner table and your kids’ bedrooms at bedtime.
- Curb online consumption with “screen-free” time slots. For example, no smartphones during a family activity, or while doing homework.
- Use a parental control solution like Hub by Securly, which allows parents to manage and monitor every digital device in their home network.