Keeping your kids safe when they start using tech is important, especially since they’re using gadgets much earlier than many of us did.
In some ways, it’s a good thing because it allows them to enhance their learning experience. However, in other ways, it can be a bad thing with so many predators on the internet.
According to one study, almost 70% of kids own a smartphone by the age of 12. I personally ended up giving my oldest son his first smartphone at the age of 9.
Giving kids tech can be scary, though. AND today I wanted to share how you can keep your kids safe when they start using tech in case your kids are coming up to the age where they want their own smartphones and computers.
Implement Ground Rules
Before you even purchase tech for your kid, I’d strongly recommend having some ground rules in place.
For example, some of the tech ground rules I have in place for my kids include:
- No electronics on school nights.
- Electronics should only be used when in the learning center with the exception of cell phones.
- On weekends electronics can only be used after chores have been done and at least 30 minutes has been spent reading or doing another educational activity.
- If any of the ground rules are broken, all electronics are taken away for the remainder of the week.
- No using electronics while they are charging.
By having ground rules in place, you can be confident knowing that your kids won’t develop a technology addiction. Plus, they’ll still be able to experience other childhood activities without having their faces glued to a screen all day.
Educate Them on the Importance of Not Talking to Strangers Online
Kids are very friendly by nature.
However, just like you teach them about “stranger danger” in the real world, you also have to make sure they know that not talking to strangers online applies as well.
With kids loving to play games such as Roblox and Fortnight where a ton of creeps are lurking, it’s important that you make sure that they’re only communicating with their friends in the chats and not a bunch of random internet players.
My kids personally aren’t at the ages where I’m letting them have social media accounts yet. However, if your kids are on social networks it’s important to make sure they are only interacting with people they know as well.
Install Parental Control Software
You’re the parent….it’s okay to snoop on your kid’s devices.
It’s better to be safe than sorry AND your hard-earned money purchased the device and they’re living under your roof. Don’t feel guilty about staying in the loop about what they’re doing on their gadgets.
By installing parental control software you can gain access to the following features:
- SMS Monitoring
- Call logs
- Access to multimedia files (i.e. photos and videos)
- Online activity tracking (i.e. which websites they have visited)
- GPS monitoring (i.e. know their location in real-time)
- Instant alerts
- Words/phrases watchlist
Depending on the parental control software that you decide to go with, you may even be able to limit their screen time remotely and block specific websites.
The bottom line is that before you give them their new device you should already have some sort of parental control software installed.
Manually Check Their Devices At Least Once Per Week
Parental control software is great and all, but I’ve yet to come across a software that catches everything.
A manual check of their devices at least once per week is needed so you can go into the individual apps and see what they’ve been doing AND let them know that you are staying in the loop about what they’re doing.
When doing the manual check, simply ask them for their device and passcode and look through it in front of them.
Keep in mind that you never want to have a routine for the manual check. Alternative days and times each week when you do the manual check so they don’t come to expect it.
Only Allow Tech to Be Used in Open Areas in Your Home
As one of my ground rules, the boys are only allowed to use tech in the learning center.
Our learning center is an open area, which means their dad and I can always see what they’re doing.
We do let them have televisions in their rooms, but electronics such as cell phones, tablets, and laptops are a whole different ballgame.
Now, I’m not saying don’t trust your kids, but it’s no need to tempt them with the privacy of a door when they’re using handheld gadgets.
The open area just makes it so you can tell if something is wrong based on their behavior and facial expressions.
I personally feel as by having a clear line of sight on them when they’re on the internet it makes it less likely for cyberbullying or anything like that to occur and if it did you could find out quicker.
Educate Them on The Importance of Not Sharing Their Passwords
Kids like to share, usually….sometimes…..well it depends on your kids lol.
But, just like as adults we’re not going around giving out our email or even Netflix passwords (in my case ways lol), we have to make sure our kids know to keep their passwords private as well.
By keeping their passwords private it makes it so there’s no chance that something goes on with their device that it shouldn’t…unless they were pushing boundaries.
Plus, it’s a good habit to instill in them as they go into adulthood and won’t have as much of our protection in college, etc.
Conclusion: It’s Okay For Your Kids to Use Tech…Just Keep Them Safe
Making the choice for your kids to start using tech is scary. I’ve been there.
To make it easier just make yourself a little bit more tech savvier (if you aren’t already) and implement a few of the things that I’ve discussed today.
While we’d all like our kids to stay babies a little longer, we have to give them some freedoms as they age and unfortunately using tech is something that will probably happen in elementary school (at the latest) regardless of whether we’re ready or not.
What tips do you have for keeping kids safe when they start using tech?