Since my older kids were born in the early 90s, my children’s on-line safety was easy business. All computers were big ‘ole desktops in the living room. Phones were corded. Video had to be downloaded, and that could take a while.
I remember trying to download the trailer for the first or second Harry Potter movie for the kids. It took eight minutes. I left and made a cup of tea before it was complete.
Now our house is full of super-fast wifi. We have tablets and smart phones for every person in our house. The Internet is a click away at all times. I held out against the girls getting cell phones of their own until they were in junior high, but that practically made me The Meanest Mom in the World™.
Still, it was important for me to protect my kids from the whole rest of the world, which is what’s waiting for them on the Internet. Also, I wanted them to know the rules apply to them, and the social media platforms they wanted to be on didn’t allow children under 13 to join according to their terms of service. This is in effort to comply with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).
Surprisingly, one of the biggest dangers to children’s online safety is their own parents’ fear of technology. Fear prevents a thorough understanding of risks, and how to reduce those risks.
Luckily, my husband and I both grew up with tech, so we we’re usually up to date with technology. We’ve been checking browsing history and installing safe-search programs for years now. Our search parameters are so clean, I can’t even buy underwear online! (Kidding.)
We’ve been too strict, and too lenient, and every other mistake you can make with kids and tech. My best advice after shepherding four kids through the teen years is this:
Monitor. It’s important! You need to know where they are going online. You’re not snooping; you are parenting. If you wouldn’t turn your kids loose in a big, unknown city, why would you turn them loose on the Internet?
Talk a lot. Know what’s going on in their virtual lives, just like you do in their real lives. Basically, all good parenting comes down to this. Every day there should be time when no one is looking at a screen. You will never regret that time spent with your children.
Stay connected—to them. Kids are looking to connect. Of course, growing up means it’s time for them to pull away from us and become more peer-dependent. Loosen up the apron strings while still staying fully involved in all aspects of your kids’ lives.
There’s not one way to raise children. The way I choose to do things most likely are going to be different from the way you do things. And it’s all right.
This post was inspired and sponsored by Domain.ME, the provider of the personal URLs that end in .ME. As a company, they aim to promote thought leadership to the tech world.