The topic of safety extends well beyond using playground equipment properly and stranger danger. Your child’s digital life presents substantial safety concerns. In this article, we discuss internet safety for parents and kids.
Keeping Your Children Safe Online
Here are a few steps that will go a long way toward helping keep your kids safe on the internet:
1) Set Online and Screen Time Expectations
“Researchers found that 12 to 13-year-old children in the United States doubled their non-school-related screen time to 7.7 hours in May 2020, compared to just 3.8 hours the day before the pandemic.” - Screen Time Statistics: Average Screen Time in the US vs. The Rest of the World.
We’ve all fallen down the YouTube rabbit hole when you sit down to watch one video, and the next thing you know, you’ve consumed an hour of content. Well, YouTube has designed its platform to keep you there, as have every other social media and content platform.
As challenging as it is for you to control your screen time, how much more challenging is it for children who are still learning to self-regulate?
You have to set the expectations and hold your children to them: even when they don’t like it.
2) Limit Screen Usage to Public Areas
There is no room for digital secrets in your family.
Keep the computer in a prominent location in the house so that you can easily monitor what your child is doing and what they are watching online. You may disable Wi-Fi passcodes on mobile devices so that your children cannot access the internet without your knowledge. You may also try to come to an understanding that tablets, computers, and gaming devices are not allowed in bedrooms.
You may also think about looking through your child's browser history after they've been online to see which websites they've visited if they're younger. This strategy clearly becomes more challenging as kids get older and learn how to clean history, which brings us to our next steps.
Furthermore, it is important to utilize the parental controls available on most devices.
3) Have Open Conversations About Internet Usage
As soon as your child begins using the internet, have an open dialogue with them about what they are reading, viewing, and to whom they’re talking online. As they become older, continue the conversation, even though they will begin to gain more freedom. Ask your child the websites or applications they use, make a list, and then go through it with them.
Talk to your child about what you believe to be suitable while letting them know that other parents' views on this may differ from yours.
4) Help Your Children Think Critically About Their Digital Lives
Kids are clever. The older they get, the better they will be at sneaking around the rules and expectations you have set. It can be helpful to try your best to keep up with new social media apps, games, etc.; however, they will eventually be a step ahead, then possibly ten steps ahead.
Ensuring they are prepared to think critically is the key to helping them stay safe online, especially as they get older. Rather than fight and beat your head against the wall, it would be better to know that they have the tools they need to make their own wise decisions.
“As much as we want our students and children to be successful, one of the biggest mistakes we can make is giving them answers to questions too quickly. We must allow space and time for them to wrestle and actually think for themselves.” - How To Help Your Students Think Critically.
As parents, this means creating as safe a space as possible for developing critical thinking skills. This is where the other steps are invaluable. Limiting screen time, only using screens in public places in your home (no phones in bed), and an open dialogue about what we’re doing online that is at least as transparent as talking about the school day are key to establishing a safe environment.
Then come the hard parts:
- We have to be willing to give them some freedom.
- We have to be willing to let them fail.
- We have to be willing to let them figure out the extent of their failure on their own.
- We have to be willing to be there for them with comfort and support.
- We have to be willing to do it all again.
5) Help Your Kids Realize There’s More to Life Than Screens
Especially as children get older, FOMO (fear of missing out) will be one of the main factors that keep their eyes glued to their phones. As parents, it is vital to help them understand that they are missing out on much more when they are engrossed in screens.
The action is in the now. Go outside and play, hike, ride bikes, learn mountain biking, go whitewater rafting, pick flowers, go on picnics, and enjoy the world as a family.
Soon, they will experience FOMO when not enjoying the outdoors with their family!
The Crenshaw Academy - Private Education That Helps Kids Think Critically
At The Crenshaw Academy, we are dedicated to coming alongside parents to see their children become great citizens and fantastic leaders by learning to think critically.
Our program, which offers debate, reading, writing, discussion, questioning, and experimenting, helps students grow into mature adults who can think for themselves.
We are an invaluable resource in helping students make wise decisions in their real and digital lives. If you have any questions about TCS or would like to speak to someone, feel free to contact us at 1-407-757-2241 or visit our website.