We rely on the internet for so much these days. Now many of us are also relying on it to educate our kids, as many schools are starting online.
With all this extra time online, it’s important for us to evaluate our kids’ internet safety skills and set up precautions to protect them. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it will give you a starting point of things to think about for your family.
- Use the Internet in Common Spaces: Being online in a common space allows us to better monitor what our kids are watching and listening to. If you do allow devices in bedrooms, make it a rule that doors need to be open so you can see and hear what they’re doing. Create a turn-in space where all devices are placed overnight to charge and kept out of bedrooms.
- Use Content Filtering and Monitoring: Our family uses PCs and with Microsoft Family you can block websites, only allow specific websites, and set up age-related content restrictions. We also receive an automated report each week with the websites our children visit or tried to visit. You can set up similar settings on Apple devices and monitor from your phone. On Netflix, you can set up a PIN for content above the rating you designate.
- Set Up Time Limits: Decide the amount of time you want your kids to be online and create boundaries. Apple products allow you to designate downtime and time restrictions on various types of apps through Family Settings. The Disney Circle device also allows you to restrict time and content, but across various types of devices, like phones, computers, and smart TVs.
- Know the Passcodes to Accounts: Make sure you always know the passcodes to your children’s devices and online accounts. Communicate to your kids that you have the right to check their devices at any time and do so occasionally. We found that although we had set up the above restrictions, somehow our daughter was visiting a website we had not approved. We were able to correct it but would not have known had we not checked her phone.
- Check their Games: Popular online games, like Roblox, are fun for kids to play online with each other, especially during this time when many kids aren’t able to see their friends regularly. Even though the game is rated for 12+, there are still some potential safety issues, like private chats. You can set up parental controls on your kids’ Roblox accounts. I found this great article here: https://www.internetmatters.org/hub/esafety-news/parents-guide-to-roblox-and-how-your-kids-can-play-it-safely/
What other suggestions do you have for keeping our kids safe online? I’ll be posting another five tips next month!
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