Updated on January 19, 2022
With the huge rise in wireless devices and social media, more kids gain access to smartphones and the internet at a young age. Though this can be great for developing their comfort with and understanding of tech, some serious risks are involved. Thankfully you have options for protecting them online.
Below, find our tips for helping your children adopt good internet safety habits, both digitally and in real life.
Lay some ground rules
Before giving your kid internet access, set some expectations, and put healthy rules in place, like:
1. Don’t give anyone your passwords or personal information
2. Don’t talk to anyone you don’t know or visit a chat room without an adult’s permission
3. Ask an adult before downloading or installing anything
4. If you have any questions or see something that makes you uncomfortable, tell an adult you trust
Set screen time limits
Sometimes, the simplest solutions are the most effective. Set a curfew for phones and other screens, so kids are made to take a break. This will not only help their self-discipline, but give them time to take care of other things — like chores, homework, and interacting more with the family.
Filters are your friends
You never know what content your child might accidentally stumble upon when browsing the internet. If you’re worried about what sites they could potentially visit, content filters and monitoring tools are a helpful way to safeguard their activity online. There are plenty of apps and programs out there that promote internet safety, including the Verizon Smart Family app (iOS & Android).
Verizon Smart Family is a service that helps you manage your child’s smartphone use. From a single app, you can limit and monitor their texts and calls, and keep an eye on web activity. Plus, you can pause the internet, track their location and more. Verizon Smart Family is only $4.99/month and Verizon Smart Family Premium is just $9.99/month, which includes location services.
Don’t feed the trolls
Unfortunately, cyberbullies can be a serious threat on social media sites. Instead of firing back at online harassers, turn off the screen and connect with your kid face-to-face. Let them know how much you value and love them. Connect them with their friends in real life who will lift their spirits and be a positive influence.
If your child is being bullied at school or knows someone who is, encourage them to download an app like Sit With Us (iOS & Android). This app was developed by a 16-year-old who knew all too well the pain of high school bullying, and how sometimes it helps just to have somewhere safe to sit for lunch.
Kids can use the app to coordinate lunches with friends and volunteer to be ambassadors for their school. Ambassadors can coordinate open lunches where everyone is invited, and no one has to eat alone.
Be a safe space
Though there are programs out there that encourage internet safety, the best thing you can do for your child is teach them how to keep themselves safe. Encourage them to come to you if they come across anything online that makes them feel uncomfortable or threatened. In doing so, they’ll know they have a trusted adult on their side.
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