Your Kids are Up-to-Date with the Latest Technology, Are You?
Smartphones, iPods, laptops . . . each of these devices have now turned into windows. Unlike the tinted windows found in SUVs, these windows are much more transparent, allowing you to see out and the outside world to see in. The smart phone can present just as much if not more danger to your child than a normal computer.
With a PC, you can see from all around the room what is on the screen and control to some degree how long your teenager has access to the Web. On the other hand, with a smartphone in their pocket, teenagers can access the internet quicker than a cowboy drawing a pistol. A Smartphone can be used to chat online, to text, to send images, to use email services, or to access Facebook.
To keep your child safe, make sure he or she knows that the same internet rules that apply on a normal computer apply to smartphones. They should never give out their phone number to strangers nor agree to meet them. Every once in a while, take a look at your child’s cell phone to see who they have been communicating with. Late night texts or texts from unfamiliar numbers (or out-of-state numbers) should be a cause for concern. Look to see if the phone has a way to limit internet access.
Social Media Site Privacy Settings
As the internet grows older, the bond between teenagers and social media seems to be getting stronger. Like the internet, social media probably shouldn’t be outright banned. For many teenagers, social media helps them keep in touch with their social world.
Nevertheless, its access should be controlled. To familiarize yourself with social media, it would probably be wise to get a social media site yourself. Figure out how to use the site firsthand. Become friends with your kids.
They also have a guide to their privacy settings which can be used to control how much information is visible to users. Facebook policy is to protect all minors (teenagers under the age of 18), allowing “non-friends” to view only their name, profile picture, gender, networks, and username.
Nevertheless, it is important that your children know not to post any sensitive information on Facebook (including their phone number or current location). They shouldn’t post anything on the site that they aren’t comfortable with the whole world knowing.
Web filters are one way of preventing teenagers from stumbling into inappropriate content. They can also be used to password protect internet access or control the times in which your children can use the Web. You can also use them to allow certain categories or disallow others. For example, you might wish to block entertainment sites or allow educational sties. It all depends on you. One good, free filter is K9 Web Protection.
Unfortunately, no web filter is infallible. Resourceful teens wishing to dodge web filters are too often successful. The best way to back up a web filter is with monitoring and firm but flexible rules that allow your child to access the sites he or she needs while avoiding those sites that are offensive.
A great deal of web protection has to do with you, the parent. As mentioned earlier, there are several things that you can do to help your child safe. There is a lot of non-technological ways that you can help your kids stay safe online. One of the best ways is to put the computer in a public place in the house. Children shouldn’t be allowed internet access in their bedroom. Keeping the internet-access point in a high-traffic area of the home will help your children self-regulate. They will be less likely to do something foolish if you are washing the dishes 5 feet away from them.
Become as educated as possible about the Web. Go get a Twitter and a Facebook account. You don’t have to become addicted to these sites, but you should know how to get around in the system. If you have a question about something, ask them about it. You might be learning social media as a second language but they’ve grown up speaking social media fluently. Many teens would be flattered if you asked for their help. How credible would it sound to your kid if you pointed at their laptop and said, “You are banned from using that Twitter machine for all of next week!” The more you know, the more your teen will trust your judgment when it comes to technology.
Perhaps the best way of helping your child stay safe online is opening and maintaining a dialog with them. Be interested in their lives, who they talk to, what their favorite classes are. If your children consider you a friend, they will be much more likely to talk to you when they come across something disturbing. Be very nosy about your children’s internet habits. You don’t have to be intrusive about it, but find out who they talk to, what sites they visit, how they entertain themselves, etc. It is better to be nosy than to run the risk of something happening to them.
The best filter won’t make up for loving and compassionate parents and the best privacy settings can’t take the place of a warm conversation. Stay alert and active. Keep up-to-date on new trends in technology. The internet shouldn’t be feared, but should be given the respect it deserves.
About the Author:
Derek Gurr is a writer for MyCollegesandCareers.com. My Colleges and Careers helps people determine if an online education is right for them and helps them understand which online courses and online schools they can choose from to reach their goals.
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