Virtual Safety

Our kids are growing up in a different world than we did. While the technological advances from one generation to the next afford us conveniences, there are also dangers both parents and our children need to be aware of. Our kids are growing up in an era of social media, online chats, online forums, and where oversharing is a given. Are your kids aware of the dangers that lurk online? Have you had a conversation with them about what’s acceptable and what isn’t as far as online conversations? This is taking “stranger danger” to another level.

It’s no secret that online predators pose as children and teens online in order to gain the trust of kids to meet them in person. I’m not up to date on the statistics but as a parent, I know that doesn’t matter. Even if it were 1 in 10 billion, you don’t want your child to be that one. That’s why I think it’s important to start the conversation early. If your kids are playing games online and there’s any interaction with other players or they watch YouTube videos and they are old enough to read and write personally, I’d say they definitely should have their online conduct clear.

Here are the rules when it comes to online conduct in our family. They have been discussed and established for her age and online activity-

  • Has to be in a common area of the house or have the door open if she’s in her room
  • There’s no need to change the screen or hide what you’re playing or watching
  • If comments are left on a YouTube video, they can never include your name, age, or where you live
  • If someone replies to the comment, share it with Mom or Dad
  • If you make a friend online, tell Mom or Dad
  • You never agree to meet anyone in person
  • If someone asks you to keep something a secret, you tell Mom or Dad right away
  • Never send your picture to anyone

We’ve had the conversation with our 8-year-old that there are people that pretend to be your age to bond over all of these things you have in common. We have these conversations in very rational and informational ways. We don’t say it a way that scares her because we don’t want her to live in fear but we do so to inform her so she can be aware of the actions of others and mindful of their intentions. You see, predators are patient especially when praying on children and teens online. It’s not uncommon for someone to cultivate a relationship with children or teens for over a year in order to gain their trust. Our kids are growing up in a time of “social media” in which there’s a socialization deficit and they are dying to connect with others. Let’s make sure we do out part to inform them so they can make wise and safe choices both on and offline.

Here are some things you want to consider when thinking of your child’s online safety-

  • Where they connect to the internet at- ideally in a common area of the house
  • What devices they connect with (phones, tablets, computers)
  • What they’re connecting to (games, watching videos, online forums, chat rooms, social media)
  • Privacy settings- who can see their activity, who can contact them, etc.
  • Usernames and passwords- do they have autonomy or do you check in on their accounts and profiles?
  • Photo settings- is the location tag set to “off” on their devices that can take pictures? If not, please do an online search to turn the location off
  • When they share– are they sharing photos or checking into places in real time? It might be a good idea for them to check into places or upload a photo once they’ve left
  • History- It’s always a good idea to check the browsing history on the devices they use to see the places they frequent online
  • Ads- you’ll get an idea of their search history by the ads that are shown in the banners when you visit different websites (assuming they have their own sign in or device)

 


Do you have any other tips for parents when it comes to online safety? If you found this helpful, I encourage you to reblog this or share it with other parents who may benefit from taking this into consideration.

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For those that have younger children, you might want to check out this post on a more in depth “stranger danger” approach. Click the photo to read more.

 

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