Sports & Outdoors
9/11/17 at 07:15 AM 0 Comments

Tech Success: How To Keep Your Kids Safe Online

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Today’s kids typically learn to use a computer before they even enter kindergarten, and pre-literate children can use smartphones and tablets better than adults, despite the fact that that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends children under 18 months use no digital media and that children under 5 engage with an hour or less of such content a day.

Unfortunately, this level of digital disengagement is often unrealistic and can even put early elementary age children at an educational disadvantage. That’s why, as parents, it’s our responsibility to teach our kids how to use the internet in safe, responsible ways.

Get Set For Success

The first step to making sure your children are safe online is setting up proper user protections. A few decades ago, parents would just set their children up with an AOL kids account that blocked the majority of content besides a few child-specific sites. Now, though, you may have to set up special software to keep kids safe.

One option that has supplanted old parental controls are products like Webroot Parental Controls, which ties to Windows user accounts, or those like SafeEyes can be used for multiple users on one account. Whatever product you choose to monitor your children’s internet use, you want to make sure that young children only have access to safe search, that certain search terms are blocked, and that they have limited access to certain sites, such as ecommerce pages, gambling websites, and more.

Another thing you should do in order to keep children safe online is assess how the rest of your family uses your internet connection. For example, if you have an old, slow connection, you’re probably not streaming content, but if - like most homes today - you use your internet connection to stream Netflix, Hulu, and similar services, then you’ll need to decide what kinds of streaming access you want your children to have. Netflix has its own parental control settings that you can use to keep children from accessing specific shows from your television, but you can also block these sites completely from your child’s computer profile.

Introduce Educational Content

Once you’re ready to allow your children online, the next step is to introduce them to kid-focused content, such as educational games. Playing games online can teach children decision making skills, logic, and even help them build peer relationships. Talk to other parents and find out what games their children are playing, since kids love to talk about the characters, challenging levels, and compare experiences.

In this age of social media, you might also consider signing pre-teens up for sites like Club Penguin. Club Penguin is an interactive site designed for kids, allowing them to chat using pre-written questions, make an avatar, and play games in a constantly moderated setting. Giving kids access to a site like Club Penguin is a good way to slow down demands to join more dangerous sites like Instagram, Musical.ly, or Snapchat.

Talk About Privacy

The most important lesson you can impart to children about the internet is that it’s a public space. Anyone can see information that they post and things stay online forever. This is a conversation you’ll need to have on many different developmental levels as your children grow. With young children, for example, this might include explaining why we don’t talk to strangers online, the same way we don’t talk to them on the street; they shouldn’t share personal information like names, photos, or where they go to school.

Particularly prior to their teenage years, children should only use the computer in a public setting. You can put a desktop in the living room or place your laptop in the kitchen or dining room where you can see what your children are doing. But it’s not enough to be able to see; you need to stay engaged. Talk to them about the websites they use, ask questions about content they read or watch, and spend time using the computer together.

Worrying about our kids is natural and change may be the scariest thing of all. The fact of the matter, though, is that worrying doesn’t keep kids safe. What keeps them safe is our willingness to teach kids the skills they need to navigate new risks and challenges and that means we have to develop increased digital literacy first.

CP Blogs do not necessarily reflect the views of The Christian Post. Opinions expressed are solely those of the author(s).