July 1, 2024

Parental Controls & Protecting Your Kids Online

Any young person with internet access is at risk of online sexual abuse and exploitation. As parents, we want to trust what our children do online, but we often aren’t fully aware of the potential dangers they face. These risks can be hard to see, especially if we don’t understand our children’s online activities or how to use parental controls. It’s crucial to identify danger signs and take proactive steps to protect our kids.

Providing Age-Appropriate Technology

Children today are exposed to screens earlier than any previous generation. They use iPads, computers, video game voice chats, and smartphones with ease. When purchasing a device for your child, list the pros and cons to determine if they need the device’s features. But most of all, ensure any device has parental controls. Teenagers and toddlers have different technological needs, so it’s essential to choose age-appropriate devices.

Setting Ground Rules for Internet Usage

If your child is allowed access to the internet, you need to have some basic ground rules. For example:

  • Don’t share personal information online, including name, location, or phone number.
  • Don’t accept friend requests from people they don’t know.
  • Be kind and respectful in all online interactions.
  • No social media accounts without parental consent.
  • Younger children may need to use devices in common areas and leave devices with you at bedtime. Older children may be allowed more freedom, but still have the rule that they agree to be monitored.

Utilizing Parental Controls

Ensure all devices used by your children have protection like passcodes, content filters, or screen time limits. These controls should not be easily bypassed by your child. Explain to your child that these controls are for their protection and not to invade their privacy. Keep the conversation positive, give them time to adjust to the idea of parental controls and explain that you are not adding these controls to spy on them or invade their privacy.

Be Honest About the Dangers of the Internet

Children are naturally curious and might not understand the dangers of the internet. Educate them about online predators and scams. Teach them that adults asking for nude pictures or videos is inappropriate and should be reported right away. Assure your child they can come to you or another trusted adult without fear of getting in trouble. Encourage them to leave any conversation that makes them uncomfortable, even with friends. Open communication about their digital lives will make them more likely to share concerns with you.

Keeping kids safe online is an essential part of parenting in today’s digital world. Parents must create a safe and positive online environment for their children. Educate them about potential risks and empower them with the knowledge to navigate the internet responsibly. With the right tools and strategies, we can protect our children from online dangers while allowing them to enjoy the educational and social benefits of the digital world. Online safety is a continuous journey, and staying engaged and proactive will significantly safeguard our children’s online experiences.

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Josh Gillispie