Technology is in everyone’s daily routine. Whether it’s a TV, cell phone, an Amazon device, or a robot vacuum, there’s a device for just about everything. Schools are even starting to use tablets in the classrooms so students can have their textbooks and notes in one spot and can easily transport them back and forth. Technology allows us to communicate with people across the world with a click of a button. Most businesses, and people, couldn’t complete their daily routines without technology.  The majority of the time, kids have a better handle on the technology than adults do. They’ve grown up with it. At a young age, many parents are putting tablets in front of their child so they can stream their favorite shows, movies and games. It keeps them occupied and happy, so why not? 

Technology comes with responsibility. Businesses are required keep their data protected and have policies and procedures in place. More and more of these controls are becoming a part of people’s personal lives too. We’re focused on helping not just businesses, but also individuals protect themselves and their children. Setting device passwords, restrictions on children’s devices, and privacy settings are just some of the items we have to pay attention to. Our goal is to educate children at a young age on the dangers and proper usage of technology. This will continue to help when they become adults, as they will have developed a routine and knowledge base of technology and how to keep themselves and information safe. 

A major challenge that parents are facing today, is the youth growing up in an environment that is unfamiliar to the majority adult population. Kids are always connected, whether is playing video games online with friends, texting, or chatting on social media platforms. But, do they really understand the online world? Often this isn’t the case, children typically just understand basic functionality. As even kids don’t fully understand what they are doing, it’s even more difficult for adults to control what they have even less knowledge of.  If you don’t know where to start, that’s ok! We are here to help. Check out our tips and tricks to help educate children, and yourself, on the proper usage of technology and how to keep private information, private. 

There are three main threats online: Strangers, Friends, and Themselves. 

Strangers. Not everyone online is your friend, even if they seem nice. Set privacy settings on social accounts and only accept friend requests from people you know. Online gaming chatrooms have the highest rate of online predators and hackers, so either take extra precautions or avoid them all together 

Friends. When people are online, they say things they wouldn’t usually say in person. Cyberbullying happens to children and adults. Children are often exposed to inappropriate pictures and language. Thinot only happens online, but also on the bus, playground and after school activities. However, unlike on the playground, it is important to teach children that once something is said or posted online it can’t on be taken back, even if it’s deleted or an apology is made.  Encourage them to talk to you if anything they see make them feel uncomfortable. 

Themselves. Social acceptance can be a major factor in decision making. Children and adults will sometimes do or say things to make them liked by their peers, even if they know it’s wrong. It’s critical to teach children that once something is online, it’s out there forever. Posting inappropriate pictures, saying inappropriate things, or just bad behavior in general needs to be prevented. Limiting the amount of time children are online or gaming with friends can help. Once it’s posted, it can’t be deleted, even if they remove the original post. 

Here are other tips and tricks to help teach children the importance of online safety! 

Communicate. Talk to your children. Keeping an open dialog between children about what they are doing online at a young age can help keep that open communication when they are older. There is no such thing as overeducating children on the dangers of the internet and they need to feel comfortable coming to you when something doesn’t seem right.  

Dedicated computer. Have a dedicated computer and desk that is open and accessible to both the child and parent in a visible area. Keep the computer updated and create an account for each user to allow privileges and blocked content to be set for individual users.  

Cell Phones. Set a limitation on cell phone usage. No cell phones at the dinner table, no cell phones until after homework is complete, and all cell phones must be left on the counter when going to bed are some good guidelines. If a child is going out with friends, make sure their location is on and the device is fully charged. Make it clear that this is not a punishment but is in case of an emergency.  

Acceptable UsageBefore giving children technology devices, set guidelines and rules. Make sure they understand proper usage and agree upon the rules. Examples can include how long they can be online, certain grade requirements that must be maintained in order to use the device, and what they can and cannot do. As always, if they are uncertain about something, they need to ask or tell an adult.  

Filters. Filtering allows parents to control what children can and cannot do. This is effective for younger children. 

Monitoring. Monitor what apps and websites children are using. See who they are talking too. Starting this at a young age is recommended. Trying to start it when the child is a teenager can be more difficult 

Setting an example. If you want your child to practice safe Internet usage, then lead by example. Don’t use mobile devices at the table, don’t text and drive, and behave on the internet as you would want your children to.  

So where do you go from here? If you’ve already implemented a few of these guides, then great! If not, then don’t do them all at once, slowly start implementing as appropriateTalking is always the first step. Keep an open communication about technology. As great as technology is, it can be incredibly dangerous if certain precautions are not taken, and your kids need you to help them learn use it.