Online access is all around us and it’s especially prevalent with children. While it has many redeeming traits, including instant entree to global information from a variety of tools, it also has a dark side that includes:
- Inappropriate content
- Online predators and
- Smartphone addiction
It’s that dark side I want to address today with simple tools and techniques to protect your children. Given that access to information is exploding using digital assistants and wearable technology, I expect this issue will continue to be a challenge for years to come.
Tips that Work
- Talk to your children regularly about your safety concerns. Make sure they NEVER reveal their full name, address, phone number age or school location.
- Remind them they are only allowed to share their passwords with you, their parents.
- Online predators want photos of your children and/or to meet them somewhere. Talk about this danger and encourage your children to come to you when they receive these requests.
- Have your child immediately report cyberbullying to you and school officials.
Look at these tips from gov for ways to prevent it. Be sure they do not respond to cyberbullying emails, texts or social posts as these just add fuel to the fire of a bad situation.
- Use tools to monitor their online activity. Let’s face it: As much as you talk and try to be aware of their online activities, you can’t be with them every waking moment. Software programs can help. PC Magazine recently came out with their assessment of the top 10 monitoring tools on the market. The other key benefit: It will filter out inappropriate content when conducting an innocent search on Google and keep them away from websites you don’t want them to have access to.
- Have only one family PC and put it in the common area so it can be easily observed.
- Limit smartphone and PC screen time.
- With the newest edition of iOS, Apple will be integrating Screen Time, currently a separate app, into the operating system. Users can receive a weekly summary of application usage and parents can set time limits on each one. Look for other operating systems to follow their lead.
- Make dinner time, smartphone and TV free.
- Only allow so many hours per week on the computer, especially during the summer and on weekends.
- Add a cybersecurity solution to keep out unwanted traffic.
Nowadays, hackers are smart. They will try and get access to your children through a method called spear phishing aimed at their social media accounts. The right home cyber solution can prevent these attacks from happening in the first place.
Understand the Laws
The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) helps protect children under 13 years old from predatory or harmful websites. Each web administrator must have parental consent if they are collecting personal information from a child within this age category. Parents that believe an operator is violating COPPA, may submit complaints through the FTC’s website, www.ftc.gov, or call their toll-free number, (877) FTC-HELP.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has much information about online exploitation and encourages you to report such activity to their tip line at (800) THE-LOST.
Be sure to contact your local law enforcement agency if your child has received pornography on the Internet.
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