Being a parent in today’s socially linked-in world is likely one of the toughest challenges you will face. While it seems a constant challenge to keep up with ever evolving trends and apps that our kids demand, there are a number of ways that you can be prepared and help guide children to safe online activities.
The #1 filtering tool recommended to parents these days is to become actively involved and have honest conversations with your kids around safety and integrity in their online worlds. This doesn’t mean you leave the doors unlocked. There are a number of filters you can turn on immediately that will help block some of the seedier content on your family computers and smart phones. These will definitely boost your peace of mind when it comes to online family safety.
YouTube Safety Mode:
Not a lot of people realize it but YouTube has a safety feature that will block most inappropriate or sexual content from search, related videos, play lists, shows, and films. For kids under four, there’s YouTube Kids that is an app featuring learning videos as well as Vine Kids. Both are curated video apps for tots.
While it’s not going to be as strict as filtering software, Google has a SafeSearch feature that will filter explicit content (links, videos, and images). Google also has a reporting system if anything gets through their feature.
Turn social networks to ‘private’:
Unfortunately, Vine, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter do not have filters or safe search ability. Your best protection is to require your child to keep private accounts on each platform and then invest in a more powerful software that can monitor social networks.
App flagging, restrictions, reviews, controls:
By reading app flags, age restrictions (ranks include: everyone, low maturity, medium maturity, or high maturity) and customer reviews on an app in both the Google Play store and iTunes, you will be able to discern if the app is going to be suitable for your child. Another great way to restrict inappropriate app access is not to share your store password with your kids. Both the Google Play Store app and the iPhone App Store have Parental Guides that are clear on how to control app downloads. It’s worth your time to check it out since apps are the #1 way teens are accessing mature content.
Restriction settings on smart phones:
Both Android and iPhones have Restriction settings that will control far more than you can imagine on your child’s phone.
In addition to these quick clicks, Advise your kids never to share passwords, teach your children to log out of computers when they finish their work, even at home. This will prevent a friend or sibling from posting or emailing using their account–even as a joke.
Be sure to talk to your kids about why it’s so important to practice online safety and keep an open and honest dialogue with them.