Keeping our Kids Safe
The other night a friend of mine put out a cry for help on Facebook on ideas for what she should do in regards to her young son (age 12) who while on his personal device was getting pictures of a young woman in a very compromising position. She was a classmate ; however, her son didn't ask for the pictures to be sent to him and she wasn't sure how to deal with the situation. Apparently, one very popular social media sight allows you to send pictures, but than just like that it is difficult to track the pictures back to the original individual. I have to be honest I am not familiar with how that form of social media works but I could feel her stress and pain. I am not mentioning the particular social media venue because I don't want to claim something to be true that may not be the case and I don't want to be accused of liable. It used to be that we were safe in our own homes and the predators were on the outside, but today it is really easy for predators to gain access into our homes. We invite them in every day, and sadly our children are their biggest targets because they are the weakest. What is a mom to do? I am certainly no expert on the matter; however, with five of my six children using devices I have a few ideas for a few of you out there who are just entering the arena. 1) Whether it be a computer, ipad, phone, or tablet don't allow your children to use them in their bedrooms. Restrict their use to a public area of the home. This way your kids know you are watching them. I can hear the question being ask, but what about their phones? Yes, phones are different in that if we have decided to give our child a phone we most likely have given it to them so they can be contacted when they are away from us. Each family is different in terms of what age they think is an acceptable age for a phone. We gave our oldest son a phone when he was 13 and staying after school for activities. We wanted to be able to reach him at all times. Prior to giving our son a phone we had a discussion about what our rules were and what would happen if the rules were broken. Believe me they will probably break the rules and this is where you need to be tough as a parent by taking away the phone. They are banking on you not following through because they know our desire to be able to reach them 24/7 is often greater than the consequence. Not sure where to begin or what rules are fair than the website The Smart Talk will help you open the conversation and decide what is fair 2) you control all the passwords not giving them to your children, and for your older children make sure you know the passwords. Changing a password should be grounds for losing the device. Be vigilant and periodically go through their phone looking for inappropriate material or apps. You can actually turn off the chat feature in many therefore they can't talk to outsiders. 3) Discuss with your children about not giving out passwords and personal information ever such as where they live, birthdates, and full name. Don't let them post pictures of the outside of your home or pictures of your car licence plate. Today it is so easy for our identities to be stolen and with a few key pieces of information online predators can open accounts in your name. We became aware of this when my father was attacked in such a manner. He is in his 70's and suffering from Alzheimer's. We used LifeLock to protect his accounts. They offer a Junior Membership for existing clients and it is worth considering when so much is at stake. Recovering from identity theft can be devastating and is very time consuming.. 4) Talk to them about what is appropriate behavior on the Internet including pornography. Yes, it is sad that we should even have to have this type of talk with our children, but let your children know that when they see something that is not OK that they need to tell you. Communicate to them you won't be angry with them. It happened with our son. He felt so ashamed and we had to let him know it wasn't his fault. You might want to install software on your devices that filter out certain material. Covenant Eyes is one such program that helps with this or Net Nanny. These two services let me remind you just act as filters for content, but they will not protect your identity. 5) Check in all devices when you go to bed. Keep them in your room with the exception of computers with monitors, but honestly your children don't need to be texting anyone or google searching anything after bedtime hours. Well, I hope this helps those of you just beginning this journey of Internet usage for your children. Just as note this post is not a paid post and opinions expressed in this post are solely mine. They are no way a reflection of companies mentioned.