From entertainment and shopping to keeping in touch with family and friends, there is something for everyone on the web. And with 4.9 billion internet users, there is a concern that all parents share when it comes to the internet: how to keep our children safe online. It’s 2023 and no secret that our society is headed into the abyss of technology. It’s okay to feel overwhelmed when it comes to the ins and outs of social media and the internet, but unlike us, our children are growing up online. With the internet being so easily accessible and convenient, it’s crucial to practice online safety and privacy with our kids. Their future revolves around technology, and it’s our job as parents to help them set healthy boundaries.
If you don’t know where to start, you’re not alone — we’ve put together some tips that are simple and easy to understand!
Where to start
Observe the amount of time your children spend on their device. If you are unsure, most devices can report screentime. It’s important to recognize if they’re dependent on their phone or tablet. This can be a key indicator that they need a little push when it comes to drawing the line on how much time they spend online.
We want to make sure that our kids are using the internet in a way that’s beneficial to them—like doing research for a school report, connecting with friends on social media, or playing interactive games. Following or friending their profiles, keeping an eye on their screen time, and establishing “no-tech” times during the day are simple ways that we as parents can help promote a healthy relationship between the web and our kids.
Practice Internet Safety
Preparing our kids for social media may seem intense, but it doesn’t have to be. Online access comes with risks, such as cyberbullying and predators, and practicing internet safety with your child is the new version of “stranger danger”. Tools like privacy settings and parental controls allow us to make sure that our children’s profiles are private and outsider access is limited. Also, be sure to instruct your child not to share any full names, addresses, or numbers online, as this will help protect both them and you from cyber danger. Teaching your kids about safe and responsible online behavior is a basic guideline that should be practiced on all social media and online platforms.
Simply taking away your children’s phones or video games and saying “go outside” may have the opposite intended effect—building resentment and further attachment. Make the most of “no-tech” time by scheduling fun activities to do together like family games, reading, walking or hiking, or a movie night. Use this time to bond and tell stories that will have your children looking forward to the next “no-tech” time. And when it comes to approved screentime, finding educational apps and websites that offer games and interactive play has become so easy! There are hundreds of educational games and YouTube videos available that cater to all ages as well as grade level!
It’s our job as parents and caregivers to ensure that our kids are being raised in a healthy environment. Helping set boundaries and limits with technology is the least we can do for our children as they grow up immersed in technology.