It’s pretty amazing to think that our kids are growing up never knowing a world without Facebook, smartphones and smiley faces made out of punctuation marks. But as a mom, I am always reminding my kids that their safety is my number one priority, even before insuring Angry Birds proficiency.
Here are just a few ways to help you raise safe kids in a technology world.
1. Talk about online safety early and often
There’s no reason to hide tech from your kids; it’s a part of life. The same way we talk about chewing food and stranger danger, you can start talking to kids about online privacy and safety early in an age-appropriate way. For example, my kids already know that everything posted online is forever. (Even if they don’t yet understand the concept of forever.)
2. Double check privacy settings.
Let’s not panic–the likelihood of anything terrible happening to a child because of a photo you post is slim to nil. Still, it’s a good idea to check your settings to give your kid some privacy if nothing else. This post on understanding Facebook’s new privacy settings can be a big help to parents.
3. Keep your computer in a high-traffic area
We happen to love this tip from one of Kiwi Commons‘ internet safety experts. It proves that some ways to keep your kids safe aren’t sneaky at all!
4. Snooping isn’t always spying
Knowing what’s going on in your kids’ social networks doesn’t have to be a violation of trust. Explain to them what you’re doing, and it’s no longer spying, right? Minor Monitor is just one app that can help you see what your kids are talking about online. If it turns out they’re not talking about anything of concern, then great! That’s a good sign you can loosen the leash and give them increasingly more privacy.
5. Vet their “friends.”
The same way you want to get to know their real life friends, try and get to know their online friends. One of my favorite tips: have your kid’s notifications sent to your own address so you can see who’s trying to join their circles.
6. Check out, not in
If you’re with your kids, these tips for using Foursquare and other location-based services can create some peace of mind. Like for one, checking “in” when you’re leaving the park and not arriving. Plus, do you really need to be the Mayor of your kid’s daycare? Maybe not.
7. Keep talking!
As with every other uncomfortable subject, an open line of communication between you and your kids is essential. Let them know you’re always here for them. And that they can always tell you about anything that makes them nervous, uncomfortable, or confused. Online, or off. -Liz