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Cyber Parenting 101: Guidelines and Tips to Keep Your Children Safe Online

Cyber Parenting 101 -- Teaching Your Children Email Etiquette

Many parental units are not “techies” and openly admit they are not. Instead, they seem to use that as an excuse not to be informed. They then proceed to trust their children to do what is right in an environment that is risky.

You Need Rules & Guidelines

When it comes to your children being online, there should be a set of household rules that are in place and followed. Otherwise no online connections.

Your house, your rules. This approach requires you to be informed.

Parenting:

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.

No mention of “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 not to monitor what your children are doing via text, “Insta,” TikTok, Snapchat, or Facebook.

Almost every day, you hear about children getting involved or exposed to topics that any decent parent would not approve of. Or, as is all too often the case, troubled children who do terrible things.

Then add to that: Facebook documents show how toxic Instagram is for teens, Wall Street Journal reports

It’s like no one knew, and everyone is shocked. So why didn’t anyone know what was going on? They are not paying attention.

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. As a parent, it is your job to know what is best for them, regardless of the venue or device, right?

Guidelines and Tips to Keep Your Children Safe Online

Parental Control Apps for tables, laptops and smartphones.

It’s common for kids to have their own cellphones and laptops. This gives them open access to everything online. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you lose control of what they are exposed to.

Many filtering software apps help prevent your children from being exposed to topics that would make you cringe. Check out: The Best Parental Control Apps. Remember, the software is only a tool – not a replacement for your involvement.

If they don’t have their own laptop, the same applies to a desktop. Preferably not in their room where they can access behind closed doors.

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 ingenious teenagers cannot guess. This way, if you are preoccupied or not home, online access is not possible. Change your password regularly 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 personally identifiable information online to anyone without your knowledge and supervision.

Have a conversation with them explaining how even sharing what may seem benign information can lead to trouble. This includes schedules, times, and dates, where they will be, and when.

This type of information should not be shared where strangers or folks they don’t know can see it.

Learn as much as you can about technology and the Internet.

Learn how it works, including how to use your smartphone, computer, and browser, to know 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.)

Review their messaging to “friends”.

Look at the individuals and pages that they follow to see what they are being exposed to. You are not spying. They have no privacy while being a minor. It is your job to watch out for them.

If you do not recognize any of these contacts, ask them for clarification. We don’t want children having conversations with those you don’t know who may have ulterior motives.

Check their texts and emails every so often.

To see what who they’ve been communicating with and what they are typing about. Here’s where a cellphone app comes into play. You are paying for the phone and connectivity; you have the right to monitor and limit how that device is used.

Check their browser history bar.

Learn how to check the history of the browser installed on their computers. Do so every so often without warning or when they aren’t around.

Remain Involved

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 regarding communicating with strangers or what “love” was. Heck, I thought I was in love with Bobby Sherman. Yeah, I just dated myself.

Their life experience is not in place yet to make mature decisions. It is your job to monitor them.

Children should have no expectation of privacy on devices and services you are paying for. Your children need you to be their guide as they use technology.

No Privacy

Watching over your children’s online activity is not an invasion of privacy. Children do not have privacy until they are 18, pay for their own devices and services, and move out. (Or is that around 30 nowadays?)

Online monitoring is a sign of a caring parent 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. But, power through and learn what you need to protect your children.

A computer with an online connection, a cellphone, or a tablet is not a babysitter. Nor is it a valid excuse not to be involved because we didn’t have cellphones and computers as children.

Learn, get involved and be part of your children’s online experiences. Look at it as another activity you can share.

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