Risk and Responsibility: How Parents Can Teach Kids to be Safe Online
Parents today have it rough. They’re busier than ever, with almost half of American families boasting two parents that work full-time. The days when parenting itself was seen as a career are long gone, and that means that it’s even more difficult to keep track of the kids and give them the right guidance they need to grow into responsible adults.
The mobile computing revolution hasn’t done them any favors, either. Although the ubiquitousness of smartphones has made it easier for parents to stay in touch with their kids, it is also an ever-present potential danger that kids carry with them everywhere they go. Dangers like cyberbullying, sexting, and child predators are common online, and it’s a challenge to keep them safe at all times. It isn’t impossible, though. The key is to use the right tools and techniques for the job. If you’re a busy parent, here’s what you need to do.
Setting Online Family Ground Rules
The first and best way to keep your children safe online is to let them know exactly what standards of behavior you expect from them. While this will not guarantee that they will always do the right thing, it’s the foundation for every other effort you will make. After all, you can’t try to enforce the rules if you’ve never set any. Make sure that whatever rules you set apply to the whole family, too. Remember, children will emulate the behavior they see their parents engage in, so if you break the rules, so will they.
Trust, but Verify
Once you’ve established the rules that you expect your kids to follow online, you’ll need to figure out how closely you’ll need to watch over them to make sure they’re doing the right thing. This will vary from family to family, but some level of regular oversight is always necessary. Fortunately, there are a number of options available to help you keep an eye on your child’s online activity.
If you don’t feel the need to be too hands-on, consider a service like Bark. It’s a subscription service that monitors your child’s online activity and uses artificial intelligence to analyze it and alert you only when there may be a problem. If you like to have direct access to check up on your kids whenever you’re concerned, you can opt for software like the mSpy SMS tracker. This industry-leading solution gives you the ability to view any and all online activity, as well as track your child’s location via GPS.
The online landscape is always changing, and so will the ways that your kids use it. That’s why it’s important to keep up an ongoing dialogue with them so they always know where you stand. Since the goal is to teach them to police their own behavior, make sure that you adapt to how well they handle the responsibility. If they are showing you that they can be trusted, reward them with trust. To not do so sends the message that their good behavior is irrelevant, so they won’t be likely to continue it. If you’re honest with them, they will respond in kind in most cases. Best of all, it will let them know how much you care about their safety and well-being, and that will have an effect beyond measure.