How do you keep your kids safe online?
Our teenage son has been asking for more computer time so he can socialize with his friends online. He likes to share pics from his cell phone, posts on things that interest him and other things he finds fun and entertaining. Does it worry me? Of course it does. It’s my job to keep my kids safe online. So I set up some simple ground rule for my son to follow to keep him safe from the pitfalls and traps that can often land kids in trouble.
How to Keep Your Kids Safe Online
These are the rules our son must follow in order to enjoy his time online.
1.) To help keep our kids safe online, there will be no visiting gaming or casino or adult sites. These sites are for adult enjoyment only and do not help keep kids safe online. Age appropriate sites must be checked first.
2.) Respect yourself and your friends online, the way you would expect them to respect you, and their parents as well. This means no swearing at one another, no foul talk, no rudeness even in a joking manner. Remember other parents are monitoring their children’s activities. So I asked my son does he want to be the one known as the kids with a foul mouth?
3.) No posting pictures of yourself you will later be ashamed of. To help keep your kids safe online make sure they realize no nude photos, no body shots without a shirt on. Everything online is viral. You might be a policeman or teacher one day and you don’t want a pic of you chugging beer and smoking weed to end up coming back to bite you. The golden rule in our house is your online usage is a reflection of who you are. So set the right examples starting now!
4.) Time online will be monitored. My son is allowed no more than an hour online before 8pm each night (unless it is for school). After homework, he can go outside, hang with his friends, talk and get fresh air without being dialed in 24/7. Being social doesn’t always mean texting or voice mail. It means communicating with people eye to eye through conversation.
5.) Passwords will always be shared and never given to anyone or changed without us knowing. I have full access to all my son’s social accounts which includes Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and Snapchat. This isn’t to be a helicopter parent, but to help keep my son safe online and not following this rule breaches his usage and will cause his account to be shut down or terminated for not less than six months, or permanently until he’s old enough to respect the privilege.
6.) Never post anything with your location attached to it. This is tough as many devices now come with online storage for GPS tracking, but you can turn this function off. My son knows never to meet anyone from the online world that we have not met beforehand in person. Sometimes people pretend to be something they aren’t.
No matter what we do as parents to keep our kids safe online, the number one thing we can do is to be open and honest with our kids. By sharing rules and setting boundaries, we are not only helping our kids learn what is safe and what is not, but teaching them that electronics and time online is a freedom to be enjoyed.