Kids today are living in a 24/7 digital world with the Internet at their fingertips. COVID-19 has taken that to extremes when going to school likely means going online. Parents are faced with a flood of new questions every day about online behavior, too much screen time, and a new app that the kids understand but you don’t.
Children can access the world through their devices. So, it makes sense you’d want to protect them from online threats the same as physical threats. Curfew. Seat belt. Bicycle helmet. Device management.
Here are some things you can do to help a child navigate today’s tech world more safely:
- Check privacy settings. You may want to opt out of things like location sharing or the ability of an app or website to post to social media sites on your child’s behalf.
- Block and filter content. Parental controls are built into many device operating systems. For instance, you can find them under “Screen Time” on Apple device settings and in “Parent Guide” on Google Play.
- Don’t forget settings on video games. Major platforms allow parents to manage game use, including age ratings and sometimes length of play, internet access and in-game purchases.
- Play, watch and learn together. Play video games, watch movies and download apps with your kids. Staying engaged and showing interest breeds comfort and camaraderie with your kids.
And if your kids are setting up virtual study groups or getting together with friends online, set up those video conferences using private meeting rooms and with passwords for invitees to attend. Learn more about securing these virtual meetings here.
You may want more – such as a simple, centralized command center. Most wireless carriers offer an app for a small monthly fee that can combine content filtering, screen-time regulation and location services for family members.
We’ve updated ours. It’s called AT&T Secure Family. You can locate family members on an interactive map; get alerts when your child enters or leaves a location like a school or home; filter out inappropriate App and Web content; and pause or set schedules for internet access, including setting internet use limits. You can customize several of the features, such as choosing from four different age ranges for content filtering.
It’s now more important than ever for kids to understand online safety just like car or bicycle safety. It should be “part of the deal” for having a device. Talking with your kids about online safety can have the biggest impact of all to keep them safe and connected.