The rise of digital communication has been a tremendous benefit to all ages. It has changed the way we communicate and the expanse of who we communicate with. With all of the doors this technology has opened, it has created an increasing burden on parents to shelter and protect their kids in ways they’ve never had to before.
Nearly 75 percent of teens have or have access to a smartphone and 92 percent go online daily. 71 percent utilize more than one social networking site. With figures as high as these, parents want to be aware of the stakes and safeguards for their children.
Most experts agree that having open communication with your kids is one of the best security measures you can take. Let them know from an early age what is and isn’t acceptable. Remind them of these values by having consistent conversations with them about their social media habits. Creating an open space for them to speak honestly will help to establish reciprocal trust. This will also enable you to be on the alert if there is cyber-bullying happening.
While it may seem like your kids know more than you when it comes to technology, that doesn’t mean that they understand the responsibilities and risks that come with using social media. Remind them that there is such thing as “too much information” and what is posted online is forever. Even when sites like Reddit which give the users the ability to remain anonymous, there is always a way to find out who they are. Alert them of potential scams, legal accountability and to refrain from completing questionnaires or giveaways, as most of them are seeking access to their personal information. The “don’t talk to strangers,” adage should still hold true online. Kids need to be aware of phishing scams and that they are a target because of their age.
There are ways in which you can safeguard your children. Update their privacy settings frequently and make sure they create strong passwords and share them with you. Depending on the age, it would be wise to only let them have access to the computer when adults are around. Facebook has a minimum age restriction (13) for a reason. It can get tricky when it comes to mobile devices, but establishing a cut off time for electronics is a good way to safeguard their nightly web surfing. Only 55 percent of parents limit their child’s screen time. With parental assistance programs like Net Nanny and Mobile Watchdog, you are able to monitor internet usage without having to constantly look over their shoulder-something nobody likes!
Finally, one of the best ways to keep your children safe is like any other hobby they are interested in – get involved! It is critical that parents become familiar with the social platforms their children are using. Even if you are not tech-savvy, get those apps downloaded and follow your kids! Awareness and education will keep you prepared for knowing the risks your children face in the digital age.