5 Guidelines To Help You Monitor Your Child’s Online Safety

Your teen has probably told you many times “It’s none of your business!” but is that really true? At some point parents need to let go of their children and let them have their privacy. But when is that time?

This question has been plaguing parents for the last couple of decades as mainstream devices make it easier for children to have conversations, meet people and do things they know they shouldn’t. At what point should you, as a parent, step in? These suggestions should help guide you through deciding.small_749317332

Age– There is no definitive age that says a parent needs to monitor what a child is doing because every child is different at different ages and every household has their own acceptable standards for behavior.

But based on your child’s age you should be able to decide if they are old enough to participate in certain activities.

For instance, Facebook’s terms of service suggest no child under 13 may have an account without parental permission. That doesn’t mean that once a child reaches 13 they should be able to have an account, nor does it mean that at 9 they aren’t responsible enough.

Ages are guidelines, and in your family, you should come up with appropriate ages for different activities.

Privacy– Texting is a fairly private conversation between two people, and while it should be monitored for the context of the conversation, it’s more acceptable for a 10 year old to text his best friend about video games, than to use social media accounts to do the same thing.

Social media is easily accessible by thousands of people, or fewer under the appropriate settings, while texting involves two phone numbers no one else (ie: the public) can not access.

Maturity– Two 13 year old teens can be miles apart when it comes to maturity. Their gender, life experience, exposure to different topics, and social skills all play a role in how mature they are at certain ages.

In a lot of families the oldest is the most mature, not simply because of age, but because of years of needing to set the example.

Your Knowledge– Do you have social media accounts, smart phones, a laptop, or a tablet? When your child has devices and accounts that you don’t, you most likely can’t fathom the trouble children and teens can get themselves into if you aren’t active on the same devices and websites they are.small_8553474140

In those cases, it’s a good idea to do some research to find out privacy settings, monitoring tools, and other options to keep kids safe.

School– Another important place that has, or may have, a say in what your child does is school. Most schools have rules in place that students need to follow to keep their phones and tablets in class. As a parent it is your responsibility to make sure they understand these rules and follow them.

On top of their own devices, schools have computers that students access and there are privacy settings you should probably understand about what kids can access, what information of the student’s other people can access, and what responsibilities your child has when using the computers and internet.

40 years ago it wasn’t a major concern what your child was writing in their diary or journal, whatbooks they could access from school, etc. But today millions of people have access to your child, if they have an online profile of any kind, and that is something parents really need to consider before coming up with rules for their kids to use certain devices and websites.

Take the time to sit down with your family and think about how each of these things affect your kids, their privacy and most importantly their safey.
photo credit: Extra Ketchup via photopin cc
photo credit: the UMF via photopin cc

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