Keeping kids safe online is something that you must be very purposeful about as a parent.
In surveys, 41% of parents admitted that they had no idea what their young people were doing online; 97% of guys and 93% of girls admitted to viewing porn by age 18. With those statistics, we can’t grow slack in this area.
In a previous post I talked about Problems With Social Networking. Today I want to talk about the importance of being aware and wise as we set guidelines for what we allow our young people to do online, whether that be social networks like Facebook, email, instant messaging, or texting.
We need to set up guidelines to help our children/teens, and also be sure there is accountability to keep them from temptation. This is a good opportunity to teach our young people self-control, and how to set boundaries for themselves.
As parents, we MUST have a plan, and we must be vigilant to protect and guide our young people as they enter the online arena.
Here are 10 Tips For Keeping Kids Safe Online:
*Note: Some of these tips are for when your kids are first allowed on social media, or have a phone. At that point they have the opportunity to earn your trust and prove themselves to be trustworthy, as you are helping them by creating safe boundaries, and checking up on them.
You should gradually give more freedom and less checking between the ages of 12 on up, and by age 17 or 18, shouldn’t be reading their texts & emails. Teens needs privacy, but they have to earn it in the younger teens years.
When you stop doing this should depend on the trust the child has earned, and if they proven themselves to have wisdom and self-control.
If you are too controlling as they get into the older teen years, it will push your child away.
1. Don’t give your kids online (or cell phone) privileges until they have earned that right by proving to be trustworthy. (Don’t allow internet on phone.)
2. Explain at the onset what they can or cannot do online. If they break those rules, they lose the privilege till they prove again they can be trusted.
3. Have a set amount of time that they are allowed online, and a stated purpose for doing so. (i.e. I want to send an email, or I want to check my Facebook) Do not allow random surfing or searching.
4. Have the internet location in a public place like the living room or family room. Have the screen facing out where others can see it as they walk by.
5. Know your child’s password to all accounts, and regularly monitor their activity by logging in. (randomly check phone log/texts as well.)
6. Set up the Facebook Mobile application to your (parent’s) cell phone number so you will receive text message alerts from your child’s account. (This also is for the younger ages. By the time your kids are 17 or 18 you shouldn’t be doing that.
7. Have all of a teen’s e-mail automatically forwarded to your e-mail, and have them forward to you any e-mails they send.
8. Have a filter on the internet. There are many to choose from .K9 Web Protection is a free internet filter with parental controls. Covenant Eyes is also a very good one, and worth the low monthly cost.
9. Don’t allow your teen to be online if no one is home. Having a password on your computer is a good way to ensure no one gets online unless you are there to let them.
10. Do not allow them to clear the internet history ever. (or their texts) Check the history regularly, but at random times, and clear it once you have checked it.
Probably the most important thing you can do is win the heart of your young person. If you have their heart, they are much more likely to trust you have their best interest in mind when you set up the guidelines, and they aren’t near as likely to fight the boundaries. However, it is still wise to be proactive!
Character training from the time your kids are young and all the way through the teen years is also important. Teaching and helping them to grow in areas such as self-control, virtue, obedience, discernment and other character traits will help them when they begin to have a little more freedom online.
Realize that the devil can and will use the power of the internet. “Be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” I Peter 5:8