If you have Kids, chances are that sooner or later you will have to tackle the subject of Social Media and Internet. Know what the potential dangers are so you can teach internet safety to your children. You need to know how to keep your children safe yet give them the opportunity to explore the Internet. Social Media, when taught properly, can be a valuable teaching tool. The sooner Kids learn about Social Media and Internet safety, the better you sleep when they are exploring Cyberspace.
How Young is Too Young
Being in the IT business, I am a firm believer in teaching my children as soon as they are able to operate an internet connected device. My children were able and allowed to use iPads from a very early age. They learned to interact with educational apps , which of course, had not access to the world wide web. However, because I believe in the power of technology on one hand and attribute my children's early reading, writing, math and comprehension skills to many of these great apps, internet safety was part of my education for my kids.
Besides teaching children about internet safety, parents need to make sure to take advantage of settings on these devices to childproof and keep curious youngsters safe from inappropriate content and internet predators. I am a firm believer in teaching early and reinforcing often for the following reasons.
Let's face it. The iPhone and iPad is probably the lousiest and least advanced device our kids will remember. Do you remember your first cell phone or computer? Point made! Technology is part of our lives and it is here to stay. It is part of our Educational Environment and Work Environment. It is ever evolving, so why not give your kids the early advantage of growing up with what will such a big part of their lives.
Even Babies can figure out how to use a game on the iPhone. You probably experienced that sometimes they may figure things out you don't even know. Kids are smart, so you need to be smarter. The earlier you get started the easier this learning process will be for you and your kids.
Now we get to the most important part, Internet Safety. This is your job. Don't just cut your kids loose to roam in Cyberspace unsupervised. Besides the millions of websites, pictures, videos and other info not suitable for children, there are real dangers your child could fall victim too. You can prevent many of those problems by properly educating your children, monitoring their use of the internet, and putting safeguards in place.
Create a great line of communication with your children. If they feel comfortable to come to you with problems your job of keeping them safe will be much easier. Don't scold them for telling you what they have done wrong, but rather use it as an opportunity to educate your children. Pay attention to nonverbal cues. Many times you can tell when there is something wrong.
One problem I found on the increase is Cyber Bullying. Pay attention to text messages from friends. I found a couple messages on my daughters phone by 2 of her girlfriends, which were completely inappropriate and mean. I had a revealing talk with my daughter about the content of the messages, the intention of these girls. She came to the conclusion and had a great boost of self confidence when she told these girls to never text her again or we will have a long conversation with their parents. It stopped immediately and without a struggle.
My children are also aware of people who claim to be someone they are not. I taught them very early on that people on the internet are not always what they seem. We have discussed stories of what can happen and has happened to children being lured by predators on the internet. I needed them to be aware of the real and often deadly danger.
They understand to not communicate with strangers on the internet or in person, to never give out personal information, and to never trust people they don't know. They will always remember John Walsh's and Baby Einstein Founder's joint video production about Internet Safety. Only people we place into the Safe Adult Category are people they can trust. Generally that is Mom, Dad, Siblings, Grandparents, and some other Family, Friends and Caretakers.
Restricting access to adult content via settings on your devices, limiting access and monitoring social sites, and simply looking at your child's web surfing history will help you to police the time on the web. You will find many apps which will help you restrict your child's access to his or her device. Some even let you block the device remotely via your phone, but most good apps require a monthly subscription. I believe there is no app as good as parents checking in and checking up.
For my part, I prefer good old fashion parenting to control Internet activity and Social Media Activity. I listen, I teach, I watch and I act. I have not found an app doing all that for me. My children know they can come to me no matter what the issue. They know I will help them figure out solutions and I will empower them to speak out, to act and do the right thing. The best thing you can do is to never cut the line of communication between you and your kids. While not always easy to do, try to be understanding and encouraging, yet vigilant and stern with your rules.
Tip 1: I keep my children involved in sports and other activities and therefore I worry less about too much time on the Internet.
Tip 2: Investing in a small Personal Safety Device.