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.

 

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Why Are Smartphones Good for Teens?

Have you gone to a restaurant lately? It seems that every table has a hand full of people who can’t detach themselves from cell phones or tablets.

We live in this uber-connected world, but not in real life. So why on earthy would parents want to buy their teenagers smartphones that give them even more reason to detach?small_8744409918

Just like parents thought almost 20 years ago when computers started entering the homes, kids/teens don’t NEED these things. But is that true?

Maybe for now, but if you consider how computers in the home have grown, and their attachment to education, you can easily see that smartphones and/or tablets won’t be far behind. To start with, today it’s beneficial for teens and kids to have smartphones, but how?

Look up facts? Remember when we had to go to the library for hours a week just to work on a school project?

A smartphone lets our kids have the entire world of knowledge right in the palm of their hands, just about any fact they want to look up is available, in seconds. There’s no reason for them to skimp out on school work because they have entire libraries on their phones.

Stay in touch with YOU. No matter where your child is, they should be able to call you, and you them. That’s one of the major benefits of a smartphone.

Reception with a smartphone is so good that it should work just about anywhere, as long as the battery isn’t dead. There isn’t much of an excuse to miss your call, or at the very least return it immediately.

Safety Sakes- It’s a fact the world has changed a LOT in the past 30-ish years alone. As kids you probably ran down the street to your friend’s house and were pretty safe.

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It was a much more interconnected world, where neighbors actually spoke to one another and watched each others’ kids. It isn’t like that anymore, people are so focused on what they are doing they don’t have time to watch out for anyone else.

But with a cell phone your child can call 911 from anywhere, making them a bit more safe in the world.

Where Is My Child?- A major difference between cell phones and smartphones is the ability to track with GPS.

Kidtrack offers this feature, and there are other programs that once installed as apps will allow you to see approximately where your child is in the world based on their phone’s GPS. Are they driving around with friends, going to parties they shouldn’t be at? -Now you can find out.

Digital Footprints- A smartphone allows you as a parent to see more of what your child is doing, who they are talking to, and what they are saying.

While for some that might be a privacy issue, for others it is imperative to understand teenage depression, bad behavior, etc. The KidTrack Mobile program even allows you to target certain words they mention in text conversation.

School Scheduling/ Homework Lists- Most schools provide students with planners that help them keep track of assignments, but nothing like a smartphone. With a smartphone they can take typed and recorded notes, keep track of assignments and schedules, and plan their calendars.

As parents we can either give our children smartphones and teach them how to use them responsibly, or we can continue arguing with them until they can afford to buy them. But, at some point our kids and teens will have smartphones and thankfully there are many benefits that make them a worthy investment.

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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.
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