I did a set of stories about protecting your computers, phones and other devices that sort of went viral. You can find them on my highlights under Internet Safety (or if you learn by reading, this post)– I didn’t necessarily intend for this to become part of my online presence, but I also know how important it is so, pressing on.
My first set of Stories on the matter were very preemptive — how to keep things you don’t want out. Or don’t want accidentally popping up. It’s great for young families because kids aren’t in tune yet with some of the more harmful elements of the Internet and they don’t really even know what to look for yet.
As kids get older, get more curious, want their own online presence, a desire to fit in with peers, and have easier and more prevalent access to the Internet outside of your home things change. Our tactics will have to change and our knowledge of what is out there has to increase. Of course we all hope that our kids will talk to US about it. But don’t be afraid to talk to THEM! That should be our number one place to get info about teens, is from our teens.
*Proactive Talk. A friend was saying that even though she would rather not give her kids more info than they need or are necessarily ready for (this convo was regarding the birds and the bees, but I think it applies here as well) — they will hear it (or a totally incorrect version of it) elsewhere. And if YOU are the one to tell them it builds trust. They see that you trusted them with info before it even made 100% sense to them, you thought they were grown up enough to hear it. You have control over the narrative, the delivery, the energy behind it. And then the conversation is open for them to revisit when it starts to apply to them.
Here’s dorky video your kid might like:
From a couple of teen parents!
@meeashley “We have to EMPOWER our children to understand WHY so that when they are away they are able to make their own good choices! And this applies to everything we teach them about becoming a virtuous, integrity-filled citizen. If they don’t understand the way they won’t get the rest.”
@ktphotographyforfun “Raise kids that CHOOSE not to watch or participate in inappropriate content. My oldest (14) just earned his first phone and it took him two years. Even still, I have access to it whenever I want. I don’t believe the answer is control. I believe it’s education and raising kids who want to be safe and smart.”
Why don’t we want to send nude pics of ourselves through the phone? Why don’t we want to chat with people we don’t know? Why do people pose as someone they’re not, or anonymously to hurt others? Why do I scroll for hours and it makes me feel bummed out? What are the risks, immediate and long-term damages involved with these behaviors? Understanding WHY instead of only hearing “NO” will help them make the right decisions even when we aren’t around.
If you’re not on board the flip phone train (I know I am, choo choo!) And you’re planning on or have a Smart Phone there are lots of Internet Contracts you can brainstorm on together, print off and sign with your children — stating that if you want to use this phone, these are the rules that apply. Even if they buy their own, and pay their own bill! There are free ones everywhere or there is this comprehensive PDF that looks amazing and is $17.
Okay holy smokes enough preamble, now to the actual steps: If you fee like you need more control or more strict guidelines here are some options!
- Wi-Fi Restricitons. Set the standard now that WiFi passwords are just for parents. Log them or friends in yourself. Set timers on your router so they can only use the Wi-Fi for certain hours a day. (like Disney Circle — worth every penny and so easy to use!), Open DNS (free but trickier to install), or lots of routers have settings within their own dashboard.
- Phone Restriction Settings. In addition to the restriction options I shared already on my highlights, here are a few others. These are Apple specific tips, but I think that is the majority here (I am happy to find out more about other brands, too!) I suggest turning off the ability to download or delete apps. (seen below.) If they want a new app you can get it for them, and it eliminates sneaky downloading / deleting, too. Just something to note: If an app has been downloaded EVER (by you, your spouse, etc.) with your Apple ID it is on the cloud and doesn’t go through the same restrictions as a new, never been download app does. There are so many new apps that come out every day how can you keep track of them all? Why not let your kid decide what is worth it to ask for and then you’ll have a buffer to research and talk about it with them.
- Safe Browsing on Phones. Safari doesn’t have a safe search setting on their app that I am aware of. Good news is you don’t have to use Safari! Under “ALLOW” you can turn it off completely. Disable it on your phone and then download a family-friendly browsing app like Mobicip. It’s free safe browsing and it also has more robust features for $40 a year for 5 devices.
- Keep track of old phones. One thing a reader shared with me is that all kids need is a Wi-Fi connection and an old phone. If theirs gets taken away, they can ask their friends to grab an old phone from their junk drawer at home and voila, back online. It helps protect not only your kids, but their friends as well.
- 24% of teens reported hooking up with someone they met online. 69% say they chat with people they don’t actually know and don’t report it to their parents. Turn off the ability for them to share their location, or for apps to be able to track them by going to Settings, General, Restrictions, Location Services, then turn it off completely and “Don’t Allow Changes” or select which apps from the list and then select “Don’t Allow Changes.”
Then also click on the “Share My Location” button to turn that off as well!