A Necessary Annual Reminder…
Many parental units are not "techies" and openly admit they are not. They seem to use that as an excuse to not be informed and proceed to trust their children to do what is right in an environment that is clearly risky.
When it comes to your children being online, there should be a set of household rules that are in place and followed — or no online connections. Your house. Your rules.
n: The rearing of a child or children, especially the care, love, and guidance given by a parent. One who begets, gives birth to, or nurtures and raises a child.
Nothing there about "except when they are online".
Not a Techie? Become one!
This is the excuse many parents use when it comes to computers. However, now that parents are just as adept with their hand-held computers a.k.a cell phones, there is no excuse to not montior what their children are doing via text, Snapchat or Facebook.
Daily in the news you hear about children getting involved or exposed to topics that any decent parent would not approve of. Or as all too often, trouble children who do terrible things and then the world discovers their activities online — and are shocked. Why didn’t anyone know what was going on?
Now is the time for all good parents to come to the aid of their children.
Just because they may “know” more than you doesn’t negate that you are still the parent. And you do know what is best for them, regardless of the venue or device, right?
Guidelines and Rules to Keep Your Children Safe Online
- Keep your computer in an open place such as the family room or rec room. No negotiation here! Online activities are only allowed in this public area – when you are home. Allow a computer connected to the Internet behind a teenager’s closed bedroom door and you are asking for trouble!
- Keep your computer and online connection password protected. Use passwords that cannot be guessed by ingenious teenagers. This way, if you are preoccupied or not home, online access is not possible. Change your password on a regular basis when they are not around. Better safe than sorry.
- Advise your children that they are not to give out their full name, address, city, state, phone to ANYONE. No reason whatsoever to give out this type of personally identifiable information online to anyone without your knowledge and supervision.
- Learn as much as you can about technology and the Internet, how it really works including how to use your smartphone, computer and browser so that you are aware of the potential problems your children can run into. (After they are online, use the drop down bar in your browser’s location bar to get a hint of what they have been up to.)
- If your children have their own tablets or laptops be sure to install any one of the many filtering software packages that help prevent your children from being exposed to topics that would make you cringe. Check out: The Best Parental Control Software of 2018. Remember, software is only a tool – not a replacement for your involvement.
- Review their messaging to “friends”. Look at the individuals and pages that they follow to see what they are being exposed to.
- Check their texts and emails every so often to see what who they’ve been communicating with and what they are typing about. Do a search at your favorite search engine for “parental cellphone apps” and get them in place on your children’s phones.
You hear stories in the news all the time about police stings, pedophiles making contact with children or wacky teenagers running away to hook up with their newly discovered online love. Or worse. We all know that as teenagers we didn’t know squat in regard to communicating with strangers or what "love" is. Heck, I thought I was in love with Bobby Sherman! Yeah, I just dated myself.
Their life experience simply is not in place yet to make mature decisions. It is your job to monitor them. They should have no expectation of privacy on devices and services you are paying for. That’s part of life and your children need you to be their guide as they use technology.
Watching over your children’s online sessions is not an invasion of privacy — children do not have privacy until they are 18 and move out! (Or is that around 30 now-a-days?)
Online monitoring is a sign of a caring parent who is involved in the activities and information their children will be exposed to online. Yes, it may be frustrating and require parents to learn some new things along the way. A computer with an online connection, a cellphone or tablet are not a babysitter or because we didn’t have computers as children an excuse to not be involved.
Learn, get involved and be part of your children’s online experiences. Look at it as another activity you can share together!