Tips for Keeping Kids Safe in a Technology-Driven World

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Let’s face it, our children are more efficient with technology than we probably are, or they will be.  They seem to learn how to use things without any direction or tutorials.  I mean, my oldest figured out how to activate the camera on my phone and delete a photo from the camera roll before his first birthday!  Kids are smart! They listen and watch what we do, even when we don’t think they are paying attention.

Stop and think about your childhood and all of the things your children will never encounter.  Things like phone books, reading a physical map, using a corded phone and going to a place to rent a movie on VHS (Video Home System, for those of you too young to know what that means)!  Children today are growing up in the digital age, where electronic devices have become the way f the world.  I cannot say we are any better, as adults have also become reliant on the use of technology.  I can personally vouch that my cell phone is always in my back pocket or in my hand, and I use YouTube to figure out just about anything. 

Technology and instant access to up to date information can be beneficial and educational, but we want our children to be safe as they learn how to use it.

Online bullying, sexual predators and inappropriate content can be found on websites and social media platforms, even when there is constant oversight and monitoring taking place.  Why someone feels the need to ruin my child’s innocence frustrates me, so our home has adopted ways to minimize the exposure and possible dangers for our children through the use of technology.

  1. Establish Family Rules for Technology Use
  • Set the amount of time allowed for using technology. For example, gaming systems are not to be used for more than one hour a day.
  • Determine times where use of technology is off-limits, like during homework and meal times.
  • Determine what applications and websites are not to be accessed.  We have our devices setup to not allow any downloads to take place, so our children must obtain our permission first.
  1. Talk with your Children About Possible Harmful Effects of Technology
  • Discuss the potential dangers of online predators and bullying.
  • Spend time online with them and explain to them that they are leaving a digital footprint online, so they shouldn’t say anything that they don’t want on public record for a long time.
  • Explain to your children that strangers could use or obtain their information, so they understand that you are trying to protect them. Keep private information private, and don’t share personal information online.
  1. Use Parental Controls
  • Install filtering software on your computers, smartphones and gaming systems.
  • Set up parental controls through your Internet service, cable TV provider, or website browser. These filters allow you to restrict your children’s access to particular TV shows, movies, games and websites, and prevent them from using these media at certain times of the day or for longer than you allow.
  1. Monitor Phone & Internet Activity
  • Familiarize yourself with their favorite applications and websites.
  • Keep an open line of communication with your children and encourage them to tell you about their activity with technology. Who they talk to, what games they play, websites they go to. Often if they know you will be monitoring them, they will be open about what is going on in their life.

Additional resources for more information protecting your children with the use of technology:

  • NetSmartz: Interactive, educational program of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children website that provides age-appropriate resources to help teach children how to be safer online
  • Common Sense Media: Tools to help parents choose the media their children use
  • Kiddle: Kid safe search engine whose results satisfy family friendly requirements.
  • NetNanny: Internet parental control solution released in 2001 and used by my parents for my younger brother.
 

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Born and raised in Wichita, full of Shocker pride, Jenna is a boy mom to son's Aiden and Eli. She married her college sweetheart, Danny, and the two keep an active schedule that includes chasing their children and dogs around Northeast Wichita. Jenna is an executive for a local HR Outsourcing organization and a member of the Junior League of Wichita. She likes to spend her spare time helping others or volunteering around the community. You can catch her at local events, supporting entrepreneurs and participating in activities with friends and family. She is a total foodie, loves coffee and craft beer, is an avid podcast listener and is quite fond of a glass of Cabernet to end her day. Keep up with Jenna at @JenMarceau on Instagram!

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