I’ve been totally bursting to talk about it. Today, my five-year-old asked me when he’d get his own tablet. My eight-year-old doesn’t even have one yet, but it made me think about how aware they are of the Internet and the games. It’s a much different world from what we grew up in. That said, every family is different. My parents shoved us outside every warm morning and often didn’t invite us back in until the streetlights went on! That’s a slight exaggeration, only in that we’d come in to eat meals and drink water. That’s about it! That said, TV and video games very much existed then as well.
And I remember it well, especially as my kids get older and discover new games, apps and capabilities of the numerous devices in our lives. They don’t have their own, and I plan to hold out as long as I can, but they have access to computers, phones, Echo devices, and more. The best thing we can do now is talk about Internet safety, and no time like the present.
1 – Discover and explore the web together. YOU should be the one to introduce your kids to the Internet. I really don’t believe it should be their friends. It’s a way to discover the benefits and advantages of the Internet, of which there are PLENTY! Information can be exciting and educational. Keep a positive attitude as you explore together. It matters.
2 – Set rules, limits and guidelines on screen usage. Reach an agreement that makes you all happy. Discuss screen times, personal information, behavior and kindness in gaming, emailing, messaging, etc., what websites are ok or not, and being careful about photos, names, phone numbers, addresses, etc. Discuss rules/modeling for adults as well, although they vary.
3 – Ask your kids to show you what they like to do online. I remember being so surprised at the confidence my daughter had in swiping through my phone, even with seemingly little practice. It intrigued me. Remember not to be too critical of what they do on the Internet. It’s normal to be curious about the web. We were all curious as kids too!
4 – Talk to your kids about the dangers of meeting people on the Internet. This is an odd one for us because I met my husband through email, but it was different in that he was my client and we both had co-workers who could vouch for us being who we said we were. That said, tell your kids not to ever meet anyone without an adult present.
5 – Now let’s talk WebSafety. The WebSafety app helps parents protect children and helps them use mobile devices safely by monitoring where they are going, who they contact, and who is contacting them through their phones.
It monitors text messages and social media use, sees what photos your kids are posting or interacting with (Facebook and Instagram) and sends real time alerts when they see dangerous activities, or they cross boundaries you set. A special note that WebSafety is not watching everything they do online – but it simply tells you when there’s a concern that you can then check out. WebSafety is available on Apple and Android devices, including tablets, for a free 30 day trial. When the trial ends it’s $5.99 a month or $59.99 a year. WebSafety is a lower cost comprehensive technology to address safety concerns.