Your child is online. You may worry about:
What they’re doing.
How they’re behaving.
The sites they’re visiting.
The apps they’re using.
The content they’re being exposed to.
Who they’re engaging with.
How much time they’re spending on their device.
That’s a lot to worry about! You care about your child and want to be an involved parent and you know that includes being an online parent in today’s digitally dominated world. While you may be doing a fantastic job in all other aspects of parenting, if you don’t understand today’s technology, you cannot be part of your child’s rapidly changing digital life. What do you do as a parent to stay on top of these important questions about your child’s online world and not get totally overwhelmed?
1. Don’t panic! There are steps you can take to be a parent online.
2. Talk to your child. Go over your expectations online behavior is step number one. Your child knows how you expect them to behave offline. Make sure that they understand that you expect them to behave in the same way online. Go over a set of rules and code of conduct online.
3. Find out. Learn about some of the behaviors that have come about because of digital technology such as cyberbullying, sexting and over sharing personal information.
4. Check-in. Let your child know that you care about their safety online and that’s the reason that you are going to check in on their online behavior to make sure they are following your rules of engagement.
5. Get in the game. Make an effort to get to know the technology that your child is using. There are many computer-phobes out there! But you don’t need to be a computer genius to stay on top of your child’s online world. The biggest step is TAKING the first step!
6. Educate yourself. You don’t need to know everything about computers to be an involved parent but you do need to pay attention to what your child is doing online and educate yourself. You need to know the risks such as engaging with online predators when your kids go online. Learn about the apps and social networking sites that kids are using today and their age restrictions. Don’t fall for the whine, “my friends get to use it.” Also, learn about some websites that may be inappropriate for kids and the types of games your child is playing online. Get to know the acronyms that your kids may be using online. They could be important to your child’s online safety such as GNOC, Get Naked On Camera.
7. Don’t forget about online security. Online security is fundamental to being an online parent. Talk to your child about strong password protection. Teach your kids about malware and explain how clicking on links or opening unknown files may put them at risk for getting a computer virus. Online security includes teaching your child not to give out personal information. Real names, addresses phone numbers, birthdates, photos, their school name, any identifying information needs to be carefully guarded in the online world to prevent identity theft and risk from online predators. Social Networking sites ask for and encourage sharing of this information. So it’s up to you to talk to your child about why they need to resist giving out this information to protect their online identity.
8. Don’t procrastinate. Get started today!