With summer vacation in full swing, our kids are likely spending more time on the Internet with their additional free time. Whether they are playing games or interacting with friends or family, the reality is that having access to the internet can leave kids vulnerable to hackers, predators, and identity theft. Thankfully there are several ways to help keep kids safe online:
Create an Online Contract
The best line of defense against the scary side of the Internet is your kids themselves. Creating a contract that kids and parents sign together agreeing to various conditions can help kids to think twice about their actions. Define hours and times during which the Internet can be used. List which people your child is allowed to interact with and which games they’re allowed to play. Agree to limit location information and use as little personal information as possible. Decide on appropriate consequences for breach of contract, including complete loss of device privileges. Partnering with your kids to agree on Internet usage rules and the results of not following those rules is an important step in the safety process.
Tech to the Rescue
There are several great apps available today that help keep an eye on our kids. Covering all the devices available to them is key to the apps working properly. Some of our favorites are:
Bark monitors all of the apps and services your kids use on any and all devices. It then sends alerts to parents if inappropriate language or content is viewed or shared. If something is detected, an alert is sent to the parents outlining the issue. There is also a dashboard that keeps track of alerts. Further, parents can control which games and apps can be accessed and when.
This device is added to your existing Internet connection. It then allows the user to have complete control over who connects to the Internet, what sites and apps they can use, and it records historical data too. It can also turn off the internet to any device at the touch of a button. Touted as being extremely easy to use, Disney Circle takes the complexity out of Internet control.
Apple Family Share
Sign up devices and use parental controls to limit screen time, WiFi, account access and more.
Check with your current Internet provider. Many offer Internet control options with certain hardware. Features often include protection against dangerous sites, device connection management, and more.
Consider turning off location services on games and apps to prevent your child from being tracked by an unwanted source.
Talk It Out
Many times kids can get into a dangerous situation simply because they aren’t aware. Discuss things like fun, game-like ads that ask for personal information in order to play. It’s also important to talk about how people are not always who they appear to be, such as in a game. An adult could pretend to be a child and begin a conversation that seems harmless but could be leading to more dangerous situations. Point out that just because there are safety measures in place, it doesn’t mean they can be careless. Comparing Internet safety to our homes; just because the door is locked, doesn’t mean you don’t need to check to see who is on the other side.
Lastly, it’s important to note to your kids that once something is out on the Internet, it’s almost impossible to remove it completely. Therefore they need to be extra cautious about the images, words, and information that they put out on the Internet.
Take It From a Kid
Did you read our post about helping Hazel and Tillie, two local Girl Scouts who worked to create a website as part of their Silver Award project? These outstanding young ladies have created a page on their site dedicated to Internet safety for kids. You can read their recommendations here.
Speaking of Safety
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