Helping Your Child Understand Family Safety In A Digital World

When you give your child their first cell phone or laptop, a major concern is their safety. This makes sense because they will probably use the device on a regular basis. And as kids are, there is a good chance they’ll share information they shouldn’t with people they do not completely know.

 

helping children understand the dangers of cell phone usage can create a loving bond between parent and child

What we hardly think about is family safety (in regards to cell safety). Not only does the child have their own safety at risk when they share too much information, but they put the entire family at risk.

 

We go out of our way to list out things they shouldn’t mention to strangers or in public places, but have we covered all of our safety bases?

 

Probably not, which is why it’s time to revisit the whole discussion about online safety with your children, teens and even young adults.

 

They already know the rules you’ve mentioned before about not using location names, people’s last names, etc. Now it’s time to consider adding some of the following guidelines to the digital family safety talk:

 

Descriptions of brothers, sisters, family names, etc. Scammers, hackers and other criminals are supremely intelligent, they can piece together the smallest pieces of information to quickly come to conclusions about where we live, where we’ll be at a certain time, or even when we won’t be home.

 

For instance, a young girl discussing her brother’s football game on Friday night and how the whole family goes, can easily give enough information to anyone looking to rob a home.

 

Details. While we have covered this before, it’s important to revisit this again, because the danger is in the details. All messages should be vague. Conversations over text could easily be done over a service such as SnapChat to save yourself from worry. We do not recommend using this application, but if you also use the Kidtrack™ Mobile app, you can set up alerts for words you do not want used on this kind of application so that you can be warned about its misuse. Kidtrack™ will also monitor and display images that have been sent as well as whether this application has been used at what time and for how long.

 

SnapChat is a service that allows one user to send messages or pictures to another. As soon as the receiving party gets the message and reads it, it self destructs. You’ll no longer have to worry about your child’s friend keeping copies of their conversations on a phone they lose. We do NOT recommend the use of Snapchat. See our post about Sexting.

 

Use Passwords. Along with being extra careful about details that help identify your family members, a cell phone is the ultimate place to get all of the information necessary to steal identities, max charges, make obscene phone calls and more. Your child’s phone should have a security password in place, along with software that makes it easy for you to locate it when it is lost.

 

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While this will make it difficult for a parent to ‘hack’ into their child or teen’s phone, this is a safety measure that affects the entire family and really is the best for everyone.

 

Stronger Passwords. Even when you’ve told your child everything you can about online safety details will slip through the cracks. It happens, but there is another line of defense; stronger passwords.

 

A study was done in 2013 that showed that up to 10% of passwords on teens’ phones included the word love. Obviously this makes hacking into a phone much easier.

 

By teaching your child about passwords that are less easy to guess and more advanced we give them another tool to keep us all safe.

 

On many sites you now have to use a password with 8 characters including a capital, lowercase, number and even a symbol. It’s hard enough for us to remember these passwords but they are much more difficult to crack for other people.

 

Clean Out Their Phones. When it’s time to get a new phone make sure you clean out their phone and reset it to factory settings. Even then there may be other options you can use to make sure all personal data is thoroughly erased. Be sure to search for their phone model on Google to learn what you need to know about erasing data.

 

The world is a scary place and it’s difficult to keep our kids safe now more than ever. Sit down and talk to them to make sure they understand how these things happen to people just like you.

 

Remind them often to stay safe online and off. And in the mean time if you have tips for other parents about family safety leave them in the comments, we’d love to hear from you.

 

photo credit: Keoni Cabral via photopin cc
photo credit: bernat… via photopin cc

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