Tag Archives: Protecting Kids

Should You Monitor Your Child’s Phone?

Class on Internet Safety

Kids love phones. Parents are buying phones for their kids at a much earlier age than ever before. The kids may use the phones for watching videos or doing research for school, but chances are that the majority of their time is spent on social media. For that reason, parents have become the number one purchaser of apps that track their kids and provide parental controls.

The Statistics

Parents might think that their kids are well protected from predators and cyberbullies. In a perfect world, that would be true. Sadly, the statistics say otherwise.

In 2017, it was reported that 57% of tweens and 66% of teens were involved in some aspect of cyberbullying. Analysts gathered the data from more than 500 million messages via email, texting, and social media.

53% of tweens and 72% of teens were sent content containing nudity or messages of a sexual nature; 11% of tweens and 18% of teens were involved in a self-harm/suicidal situation.

Do You Need an App?

There are many apps that can give parents control over the phone use of their kids. Apps are helpful in tracking the location of your child as well as viewing their online activity. Many phones have built in control systems, such as the ability to block phone numbers. Apps take it one step further, allowing you to trace unknown callers on your iPhone or Android or do a reverse search to identify a caller.

Parents can search through a kid’s phone for inappropriate messages, profiles and photos, but the effort is often wasted. Kids are tech savvy, usually more so than their parents, and can hide what they don’t want to be seen. Using an algorithm to find information is more efficient and effective.

Monitoring Kids’ Activity

Parents can restrict adult content on their kids’ phones. Other things that are monitored include cyberbullying, threats of violence, signs of depression, suicidal behavior, and online predators. The apps use a specific algorithm to scan social media networks, YouTube and YouTube Kids, email, text messages, and more.

Phones Aren’t the Only Problem

While kids use their cell phones most often, parents should also monitor other devices such as computers, laptops and tablets. Those who aren’t savvy about file storage should also be aware that messages and photos can be stored in the cloud in files on sites like Google Drive or Microsoft OneDrive. The files can be accessed anywhere by anyone with an account.

Having a Discussion with Your Kids

Perhaps the hardest part about digitally monitoring your child is having the conversation about why it’s important. Kids may see it as being punished or as an invasion of privacy. They may resent you for controlling their online use. However, they must be made to understand that it is in their best interest and that it’s being done to keep them safe – online and offline. Someday, probably many years down the road, they will understand and thank you for watching over them.

 

 

 

 

 

Protecting Your Kids Online

Parents Protecting Children on the Internet

Everyone knows that you can’t have your eyes on your children 24/7, especially if they are in school and spending time away from home. Sometimes it must be enough to educate your kids as best as possible, exercise reasonable care, and hope for the best. Parents should teach kids how to be safe online, especially since children spent a great deal of time on the Internet. It’s true that kids are generally more tech savvy than their parents. But that tech know-how doesn’t have anything to do with being safe online. Kids are trusting and naïve. They need watchdogs to protect them.

Safe Sites

There have been safeguards for kids almost since the Internet was invented. However, those tech savvy kids can get around those blocks with little effort. Before turning your kid loose on the internet, set strict guidelines including the amount of time spent online as well as which sites are acceptable and safe.

Steps to Take

  1. Use safety features on websites. Let’s use YouTube as an example since it’s one of the most popular sites. If you’re using a desktop, scroll down to the bottom of the screen to the “Restricted Mode” setting. This setting will hide videos that contain inappropriate content. For the mobile app, click on the three dots (top right) to get to Settings > General. Scroll down until you see the “Restricted Mode” option.
  2. Set privacy controls on social media accounts. First, make sure that the children are old enough and mature enough to use social media. Discuss what is appropriate and limit who can see their posts.
  3. Use separate accounts for adults and kids.
  4. Set up separate accounts for your kids on your computers
  5. Use kid-safe search engines and browsers.
  6. Limit the time your child spends online.
  7. Use only safe chat rooms
  8. Teach your children not to talk to strangers. While great friendships can be made online, there is a great danger that children are being approached by predators. Teach kids to maintain a safe distance. If the stranger wants your child to call or text, iPhone app to see who a phone number belongs to and note it just in case.
  9. Teach your children about “sexting.” The Justice Department has stated that the biggest threat to children is something called “sextortion.” People send graphic messages or pictures which can cause lasting psychological damage.
  10. Avoid file sharing. Aside from being illegal, sharing files, e.g., music, videos, etc. can be a doorway to getting a virus on your phone or computer.
  11. Discuss cyberbullying. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine have reported that cyberbullying affects up to 15% percent of children. The percentage is higher for kids who are minorities, disabled, overweight, or LGBTQ.

For more tips, visit the Federal Trade Commission’s Consumer Information website.