Families are spending more time online than ever, yet we’re still a long way off from the internet being safe for kids. Check out these guidelines for protecting yourself and your family in today’s digital world.
The Basics: Passcodes & Passwords
Strong passwords and passcodes continue to be your first line of defense in keeping your—and your kids’—data safe and secure. They’re also the simplest way to keep your child from accessing inappropriate content. Here are just a few tips on using them effectively:
- Create strong passwords and don’t share them with your child.
- Enable face ID: even more secure than traditional passwords, Face ID can only unlock a device with your face, so you don’t have to worry about anyone guessing your password.
- Use password-protected parental controls: these include content filters, location and activity monitoring and more to help you manage the what your child can access online.
Learn more about creating strong passwords in this article from Symantec.
Do Your Homework
The market is full of apps and games targeted at kids, but no one knows your child better than you. Before downloading or allowing your kids to download an app, do your research to find out if it’s right for your child. Some reputable sources include:
- Common Sense Media: This website exists to help parents decide which forms of technology are appropriate for their kids. It offers honest age-based parent reviews, expert ratings and more.
- American Academy of Pediatrics: A leading authority on kids’ health, this site has a wealth of articles, research-based recommendations and other resources.
- Child Mind Institute: This nonprofit organization primarily supports children affected with mental health and learning challenges, but offers useful information for any family, including media guidelines for kids of all ages.
Sticking with high-quality kid-only content platforms is another great strategy for finding age-appropriate digital activities for your child. Learn why these are often the safest choice in our post, “3 Tips for Kid-Safe Streaming.”
Soup Up Your Software
As much as we’d like to think everything we download is trustworthy, having reliable software is still your best bet to safeguard against threats like malware and identity theft. And for parents, it’s especially important to equip all laptops, tablets, mobile phones and other devices with the most current antivirus software.
Be sure to read valid reviews and make sure you’re getting the product from a trusted source before buying.
Talk, Listen, Talk & Listen Some More
Last but not least, the single most important step you can take to protect your family is to talk to your kids. You don’t need to be a tech expert—as they get older they may know as much as or more than you do. But you can instill some basics on how to behave responsibly on the internet while maintaining a healthy two-way dialogue.
- Know who they’re talking to. Encourage them to talk to you about their interactions, and teach them strategies for dealing with trolls and bullies.
- Educate them about online predators, identity thieves, scamming tactics and how to avoid them.
- Teach them how to protect their own privacy—never give out personal information or click on suspicious or untrustworthy content and links, and to log out of all accounts every time they finish using a device.
- Explain what’s appropriate to do and not do online. This includes gaming, streaming, chat and any other medium they come into contact with.
- Reassure them that they can come to you with any questions or concerns at any time.
Living in today’s connected world comes with so many advantages for our kids. As long as we teach them how to navigate the downsides and communicate openly we can promote safe, meaningful online experiences that benefit everyone.
For more detailed information about online safety for kids and families check out this article from Safehome.org.