How Safe Are Your Kids Online?

How Safe Are Your Kids Online?

Disclosure

There are some things from our childhood that stick with us for life. A few weeks ago, I shared some positive actions from 4-H that I have carried with me since my youth and have previously discussed fond childhood memories with my dad. Of course, everyone has at least one negative incident that left an indelible mark. For some, it may have been something traumatic. For me, phone calls stand out in my memory.

I was in maybe 3rd or 4th grade at the time and my parents were next door at my aunt and uncle’s house playing cards for the evening. The phone rang so I answered it to a kind gentleman on the other end addressing me by name. He explained that he was trying to reach my friend Jean or Jenny or something but couldn’t locate her phone number. He said my cousin (whom he referred to by name) had given my name and number and told him I might be able to assist him. As I started to fumble to find the phone number of my friend Jeanie, my dad came barging into the house having sprinted the 100 yards from the neighbor’s house. You see, that cousin he referred to happened to be the daughter of the same aunt and uncle playing cards with my parents that night.

It used to be more difficult to get information about kids. - SahmReviews.com

Apparently, she received the same phone call of a man phishing for information about the young girls at our school. In an era pre-internet, pre-caller ID and reliant on phone books where information wasn’t so readily available, we had no idea that this man was a predator. My uncle and dad took notice of my cousin’s phone call as she provided my name and phone number just minutes before the phone rang in our family’s kitchen. This resulted in the aforementioned sprint to ensure another child’s name and information were not given out by naive little me.

After hanging up the phone, my dad filled me in on what had transpired prior to the phone ringing at our home. It was devastating to hear that I unknowingly almost put a classmate at risk, all with good intentions.

That was then. In a time when things were very different. Information was harder to attain. Children’s names weren’t posted online and very infrequently in newspapers. Attaining information about a child today is much easier and it’s compounded by the fact that many children have their own cell phones and social media accounts.

With kids perpetually online, Internet safety is a concern more than ever. Consider these strategies when determining their safety online. - SahmReviews.com

June is Internet Safety Month so it provides the perfect opening to address some of these concerns. Parents need to be aware of their children’s actions both online and off, establish rules and set digital behavior guidelines.

With respect to apps and social media, we have one rule and it is very simple. They can agree to follow any behavior rule we have set forth or they can opt not to have an account. As I’ve said previously, an open-door communication policy within our family is a priority and we work to ensure they can discuss anything and everything with us.

Social Media Platforms

Our girls are only allowed to have accounts on media platforms that we have approved. Unless we have said otherwise, they also need to keep their accounts set to private. We understand and can relate to their desire to have as many followers as possible, yet we feel their safety is the priority. Since they share school activities on their channels, we feel that keeping their accounts private is the best way to control the information being disseminated.

Social Sharing

Whether photos, videos or text, we enforce appropriate sharing. Photos need to be modest while text should be age-appropriate. We reserve the right to log in and check their accounts whenever we choose. We have explained that even though their accounts are private, no post is secret. While they think they can eventually delete something, once something is shared, anyone who sees their account can do a screen capture and reshare beyond their control.

Cyberbullying

Our oldest daughter was the victim of bullying while in elementary school. We regularly remind both our daughters of the Golden Rule: Treat others as you would like to be treated. Period.

Communication is the biggest concern for us. Aside from internet safety, we want to make sure their physical safety is in check. Our oldest daughter has an iPhone 6S while our younger carries an iPhone 5c. We require that both have location tracking enabled so we know where they are at any time and insist their text messages be set to allow us to see when messages have been delivered AND read. That’s a huge benefit for all of us having iPhones as are the various parental-control options available in iOS 9’s settings. For Android users, apps such as NQ Family Guardian can be utilized to provide safety and security monitoring including a panic button feature that sends an alert to parents immediately.

Of course, many of these features only work when the phones are connected to reliable cellular service such as U.S. Cellular. Our kids sometimes are concerned with their mobile usage as they stream videos and play online games so they opt to disable the cellular service. We have to continuously remind them that we are unable to utilize these important safety features when they turn off their cellular service. Once again, being able to have a dialogue regarding difficult subjects such as bullying, phishing and privacy is key to ensuring our kids are safe. It’s a different world than when we were kids and talking to our own kids is more important than ever.

Have you talked to your kids about internet safety?

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Nicole

About Nicole

Founder and owner of SAHMReviews.com, Nicole has been involved in social media marketing since 2007. She has worked with a number of major corporations who utilized her skills to improve their social media outreach and online presence. Nicole works as an ambassador for brands such as Netflix, U.S. Cellular and K'NEX, has been featured in McDonald's videos as well as Maria Bailey's book "Power Moms". Always a SAHM (stay-at-home-mom) and mother of two beautiful daughters (ages 13 and 12), Nicole can be your go-to person for all things social media.

11 comments on «How Safe Are Your Kids Online?»

  1. This can be a real challenge. We had an issue with cyberbullying when my son was younger. It was awful.

  2. Kim Croisant says:

    Not safe at all. I wish and pray that my grand daughter doesn’t get a hold of any predators. Seems her mom is not watching her all the time and allows her on snapchat and others. I don’t like that.

  3. Barb W. says:

    Excellent information, thanks! This is a topic I’m constantly concerned about and definitely do talk with my teens regularly about internet safety. We also monitor their accounts. I’m all about privacy, but protection of my children trumps that in this situation!

  4. Mitch says:

    This is a never ending topic that must remain in all parents minds, at all times. We cannot get complacent and forget to stay on top of this. And this subject hit close to home when a kid in my son’s middle school was arrested for some bad stuff that included his use of snap chat and bullying girls. It stinks, but it is our world today.

  5. Carlee C says:

    I have been having conversations with my children about their online usage from a very early age. I always say, “Once you see something, it cannot be unseen.” so they are cautious able surfing outside of the allowed websites and are not given access to chat or others online.

  6. Michele says:

    I don’t have any children but would probably take the route that you are. I make the rules! Period–end of sentence. My Dad would have probably tracked down that caller and I am even from an older generation then you!! There was a rule in my house–my bedroom door was never to be closed if I had friends over–and back then all he had to do was pick up the phone in the kitchen to find out who and what I was talking about!!

  7. Ashley says:

    I feel like things are so much scarier now than when I was little!

  8. These are some great tips for parents and legal guardians. It’s terrifying to think all the horrible things that could happen if kids are not supervised online.

  9. James says:

    Very good article and a very important topic

  10. Natalie says:

    Scary new world in some ways!! Thanks for the information. Will be sharing with other parents!

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