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Technology use is part of our every day lives now. We all use it regularly for communication, entertainment, and education. Technology is amazing, wonderful and so beneficial. However, with it can come a lot of dangers for kids, families and all individuals. I wanted to talk today about keeping kids safe online and some tips to help you do that. I also want to tell you about The Smart Talk from LifeLock and the National PTA. It is an awesome family agreement about using devices and computers.
It is SO important to talk to kids about online safety as well as safety on their devices. If they are unaware that there are dangers, they will not know what to look out for. We always try to be open with our kids about safety and establish rules early on so that they are used to them!
Important Tips for Keeping Kids Safe Online:
- All devices should be used in a public place. We never allow our kids to use them in their rooms. Our computers are in public locations, too. This is one simple way to keep an eye on them and make sure the things they are doing online are appropriate. It also helps keep track of the length of time they are using it.
- Make sure your kids are using age appropriate websites, apps and shows. There are ratings on apps so you will know whether they are appropriate. Television shows have ratings, also. Common Sense Media is a great resource for knowing what is appropriate! I visit that site a lot.
- For littler kids, give them a designated folder of apps they are allowed to use. You can also install programs onto your smart devices that restrict usage.
- Set time limits on their technology use. There are apps and controls that help with this, too! I have an app called Time Lock that actually locks them out after a certain amount of time.
- Set certain times they are allowed to use the devices. My kids are not allowed to use them during meal times, during school lessons (unless for a specific purpose) or after 8 pm. They only have access once school work and chores are finished.
- Discuss with your kids things they are allowed to view online, or things you do not want them to view. WE have discussed pornography with our kids and want them to know to turn anything in appropriate off and tell us right away.
- Talk to kids about never downloading files and programs without a parent present. These can bring malware and viruses onto your computer as well as give people access to your devices.
- Install parental controls on your wifi so they cannot access website you do not allow. You can do this through the router so all devices are controlled. We use Disney’s Circle at our house to filter and control usage. I love it because I can set a profile for each member of our family and see all of their online use.
- Discuss online etiquette and what is or is not appropriate to share online.
National PTA and LifeLock created The Smart Talk. It is a free, online tool where you can create your own family agreement for technology use. It helps families set ground rules and have open, ongoing conversations about online safety and responsibility. I went through the agreement with my oldest son and plan to do it with my other kids as well. It can be overwhelming to remember all of the things to talk with your kids about, so The Safe Talk was helpful to me! There were a few topics in there that I would not have thought to cover on my own with my kids.
The Smart Talk is an interactive experience for parents and kids to do together. It leads you through a guided conversation about online safety and privacy; screen time; apps and downloads; texting and calling; and social media and respect. You answer questions about your desires as a parent and then the child answers questions as well. It prompts discussion on different topics. Then, it creates a printable contract to hold the parent and child accountable.
How are you keeping kids safe online at your house? Take some time to research apps, hardware and router options of parental controls. There are some incredible options out there now!