Educate yourselves about dangerous apps. As parents take time to learn about apps that your kids are using or that are popular for kids.
Did you know that the number one place perpetrators go to, to groom their victims is to the electronic world?
Know your security setting options. There are settings you can put on your kids smart phones and tablets, such as requiring parent approval to download any apps. Acquaint yourself with filtering devices that you can use in your home to help your kids stay safe at home, and security settings to use while they’re out of your home. We need to remember that we control these devices, not the other way around.
Talk to your kids about sexting and sharing sexual content. One of the biggest issues facing kids is sharing inappropriate sexual content. Something that seems fun and exciting quickly turns into a problem. Teens that engage in sexting run the risk of being registered as a sex offender. Nude images of anyone below age 18 are illegal to share online, even if the person taking the pictures is himself/ herself. Teach kids not to share nude photos, even with boyfriends or girlfriends. Criminal charges be a huge burden and stigma that will follow them for the rest of their lives. Further concerns of sharing sexual content can result in bullying, revenge porn, blackmailing, ruined social reputation, emotional distress, and even suicide. Teach kids not to share nude photos, even with boyfriends or girlfriends.
Never keep secrets. Teach your kids that nothing in the online world should be kept a secret from you. If anyone says things to them online that make them feel hurt, uncomfortable, or anyone makes a threat, your kids need to know to tell you and understand why they need to tell.
Encourage positive information sharing in your family. Your family will feel more connected and uplifted as you share a fun quote or challenge with each other. Put down the phones, turn off the t.v., and talk.
Talk to your kids about digital footprints. Kids need to know the potential impacts of what they share online. Tecah your kids to not share personal information. Anyone who looks hard enough can find out where your kids live or go to school. Kids should also be advised to share only content that they are willing to let out of their control. Once information is shared online it is in the public domain and can easily be shared. Kids should never post anything that would embarrass them or others.
Watch and learn together. You don’t have to get rid of your electronic devices to experience family connection. Instead, use electronic devices intentionally to create moments of connection. For example: watch a informative YouTube video together and then spend time talking together about what you learned. Our family, whenever we are in line at an airport or at an event, we use the Heads Up app on our phone to play a game together. Each time we do others in the line can’t help but join in on our fun and we have a blast. We make new friends and connect as a family in a situation where we might have otherwise plugged in some earbuds and scrolled through social media on our phones.
Know the danger areas for kids to have internet access. Grandparents homes are often a place where kids can work around your security measures. (Grandma and Grandpa might not understand the importance of internet safety or have a lack of digital understanding). Playgrounds and public transport are another place. You may have set controls on your kids electronic devices, but what about their friend’s devices? Bedrooms are probably the most dangerous place. In the bedroom your kids face sextortion, FOMO, endless scrolling through social media profiles, and cyberbullying all alone. Don’t allow screens in your kids bedrooms.
Parents, you need tracking, too. Kids aren’t the only ones who could benefit from a little less screen time and a little more connecting. Try holding a family competition to see who can use their phones and electronic deices int he most positive way. Try holding electronic free family outings or experiences, such as a hike or cooking a meal together.
Keep checking in. As a family, talk regularly about what your children are seeing online and how they are experiencing social media and video games. Educate your kids on what to do if they see things they do not like. Let them share about things that made them feel funny or uncomfortable. Especially talk to your kids about online bullying. Online bullying is a crime and your kids need to know that they can come to you if they are being bullied. Resource officers and schools can help stop bullying if they are made aware of what is happening in your kids lives.
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