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

Tags : , , , ,

4 Ways KidTrack™ Helps Keep Your Kids Safe

It’s a little nerve-racking to see the media these days. It seems every where you turn, kids are in danger and for a parent, there seems to be so little you can do.

Outside of arguing with your children day in and day out about their safety, you have to have some trust in them to do the right thing.

Kidtrack™ was developed for parents just like you, the parent who wants to ensure more safety for their child without the daily hassle and confrontation. But what are the features that will make your life easier? Let’s take a closer look:

small_179279964

Geographic perimeters– Particularly useful for teens, this feature allows you to designate a geographical area that your teen or child is not allowed to leave. Based on the GPS features of their phone, if and when they leave the designated area, you’ll receive an immediate alert to notify you of the issue.

With an alert like this you can decide if you want to call your child to question their actions, or wait until they return home. The benefit though, is that you get to address the situation and discuss any safety issues or consequences.

small_4664624124

Vocabulary alerts– Almost as soon as children get out of our ear shot it seems their language takes a turn for the worst. They start swearing, using ‘hip’ language, etc.

As a parent we both understand this behavior, and cringe to think what they are saying. The vocabulary alert allows you to select certain words you want to be notified of their use.

Perhaps for an 8 year old (yes they use smartphones) will need more of these alert words, and a teen less, but either way you’ll have an idea what they are texting about.

Text message copies– Some teens text up to hundreds of times a day. What could they possibly be saying with that much texting? This feature allows you to see copies of their texts, both those sent and those received.

This might be a better feature to use if your child texts less though, as reading all of their texts could prove to be time consuming. For heavy texters, it might be a good idea to add some alerts for certain words used, as you won’t have to spend nearly as much time reading their messages.

Website visits– Smartphones have their own web browsers that allow kids to search Google, go to Wikipedia, and basically access anything they want on the internet. Even if you restrict them from certain apps, they may still be able to access those sites from the browser.

This feature gives you access to the same links and websites they’ve visited. You’ll see where they’ve searched for local businesses to call, maps they’ve looked up on Google Maps (the website, not the app) and from this information you’ll have better insight into their activities.

Conclusion: We at Kidtrack™ want to help you keep tabs on your child in a fast paced and crazy world. We know it isn’t easy to stay on top of every single thing they see, do and want to do, but we hope that our features give you a better indication of what your child’s life is like, and this allows you to deepen your connection with them.

photo credit: Pink Sherbet Photography via photopin cc
photo credit: Www.CourtneyCarmody.com/ via photopin cc

Tags : , , , ,

The #1 Secret to Not Violating Your Child’s Digital Privacy

Some parents think they have every right to see what their children are doing on their phones, tablets and computers. Other parents are worried about violating a trust with their child.

This is a common problem because as teenagers get older and more mature, parents need to start trusting them to make their own decisions. On the other hand, there are no clear cut answers that give the right age to completely let go of monitoring their lives. At age 18 they are legally allowed to make their own decisions, so before that, when does a parent begin allowing them to test their freedoms?

As the internet and media fill our heads with horror stories of teens and young adults commiting suicide, many parents want to land on the side of caution and monitor everything their child does. This behavior causes more complications at home, more arguments, fights, and a lack of trust that pulls teens away from their parents even more. There doesn’t seem to be any sure-fire way to be sure a parent is doing the right thing, so what should they do?

Regardless of which parent you are in situations above, there’s one way to make the whole privacy issue much easier: Tell Them You are Watching!

The first thing to do when you give your child the opportunity to start using digital websites and devices, is to tell them you are watching what they do. You’ll see the websites they visit, the information they share, etc.

The same goes for their smartphones and tablets. With the parent monitoring programs out there, it’s easy for you to see what your child is doing on their cell phone. You can track how far they’ve gone, when they’ve left certain geographic areas, and when they’ve used certain words in texts.

If your child is still young and you feel the need to make sure they stay safe, you should use these features. And, if you are worried about violating their privacy, you can tell them right from the beginning that you’ll be watching, and exactly what you’ll be able to see.

Why Does This Work?
Kids act different when they know they are being watched. When you tell them you’ll see their conversations, pictures, and whereabouts, they know they have to behave. Sure, you could give them the device and let them think they aren’t being watched, and then confront them about every topic you oversee, but will that lead to issues – most likely.

Instead when you tell them, they’ll understand the guidelines you’ve put in place for your family about social media, texting, devices, and privacy, and that whatever new toy (device) they have, they’ll still have to abide by those rules.

How To Handle Issues?
Inevitably, if you are monitoring your teen’s behavior, there will come a time you want to question what they or someone else has said or done. There isn’t a perfect way to handle this, but we can offer some advice. Start by considering their safety, is it really at risk? If it is, obviously proceed with confronting them.

Confrontation isn’t always pretty, but give them the space to explain themselves. If their safety isn’t at risk and it is a matter or someone else’s safety, you’ll also need to intercede. When the issue has more to do with respect, and minor infractions, consider how important it is to bring up.

Maybe you’ll want to bring up small things in groups, or wait and see how problems play out.

In Conclusion
You decide if you are doing the best thing for your child or teen. Monitoring software, advice from blogs and the media are just there to give you suggestions. Decide what is important to your family, talk it out, and follow up with issues as you see fit. You are the parent after all, and even worrying about this shows how much you care.

Tags : , , , ,