My youngest is starting middle school in September. He is so excited but not about the teachers, classes or after school activities. No. What middle school means for him is finally having his own phone. With my eldest, the majority of her classmates arrived on the first day of middle school with a brand new phone. With my youngest, he is one of the last of his friends to receive a phone. Most of his friends received their first device in elementary school.
With kids going online at younger ages, the concern over online safety is growing. This past week, University of Michigan published the results from their poll ranking the top 10 health concerns for children. This year, internet safety ranked #4, rising from #8 only a year ago.
This is not surprising. The digital world is an all age’s venue. Children can far too easily stumble upon inappropriate content. Even when watching only children videos on YouTube, kids are just three clicks away from adult content. Click through the suggested videos on the side and Happy Elmo can quickly morph into Swearing Elmo and even built-in parental controls on YouTube can hardly keep your kid 100% safe from adult content.
How To Protect Kids Online - Balance Exploration With Safety
Allowing kids the opportunity to explore while keeping them away from content they are not ready for is an essential part of digital parenting. When kids are young, parents should set controls to protect kids online. As they grow and mature, parents can allow them more opportunities to explore on their own.
How To Protect Kids Online - Keeping Content Age Appropriate
What is appropriate content changes as a child grows and learns about the online world. Below are online safety tips for each age group on how to keep content age appropriate on your home computer and mobile devices.
Internet Protection for Kids (6 - 10 Years Old)
Once in elementary school, a child’s enthusiasm for going online and playing games increases dramatically. While this age group is excited to go online, they are a cautious. As the amount of time they spend online increases, children start to feel more concerned about internet safety. Sonia Livingstone, from EU Kids Online Network, found children’s concern about risks increased significantly between 9- 12 years old. At this stage, kids are adding new online activities faster than they are gaining the skills or maturity to cope with what they find.
For this reason, parents should set parental controls on all devices. When it comes to limiting searches, some smartphones and tablets allow parents to turn the browser off or set restrictions. If kids are able to search online through their device, parents may want to add some additional controls to keep them from stumbling or seeking out adult content.
Keep Internet protection for kids adaptive. Review parental controls and settings each year
and adjust them as your child grows and acquires more online safety skills.
Parents should also approve all apps kids download. One of the easiest ways to do this is to change the settings in GooglePlay and iTunes to allow only secure apps and games approved for all ages. Now, if a kid wants to download an app with a teen or 13+ rating, they will need to enter a pin code. Parents should keep this pin code secret and hard to guess.
Internet Protection for Kids (11 - 14 Years Old)
In middle school, textbooks and research projects move online. For parents, tweezing out what is school related and what is not is challenging. You may see them doing homework with Facebook open and their phone beeping as they work together to complete a group project. Not all that beeping is school related. This is also the age when social lives move online. With all this activity, it may seem like all your tween does is stare at a screen.
While it is a challenge, parents need to stay engaged. With the need to use the internet for school, limiting searches is not so easy. Parents can keep tweens focused on homework by limiting their screen time. A great way to do this is to set a bedtime for devices and keep them out of bedrooms. Parents can also use software to limit the sites they can visit.
to before bed and after homework is done.
Internet Protection for Kids (15 - 18 Years Old)
At this stage, talking and listening should take precedence over filtering and monitoring. This does not mean teens should be allowed to roam freely. Parents still need to check in. Teens cannot take off in the car without letting parents know where they are going. Similarly, parents need to know where they are going in the digital world. Parents can do this either by sitting beside their teen and touring the device or using a software package like Familoop Safeguard specially designed to establish internet safety for kids.
Checking in is not about getting them in trouble. This is an opportunity to guide them and talk about sharing smart and staying safe online. Soon they will be on their own. One of the life skills everyone needs is the tools for how to lead healthy digital life.
Digital Parenting is about teaching kids how to take advantage of all the benefits technology offers while avoiding the pitfalls. As they grow, the support kids need at each age changes. The internet changes too. New social games pop up in the app store and the app just approved a year ago may now have a new feature. Parents need to keep up to date on not only what their children is encountering online but also what is happening in the digital world.
Parental control software by Familoop is designed to grow with your child. Each age has its own set of recommended parental controls. Familoop Safeguard also adds new features to support the latest apps as well as offers advice on how best to keep your child safe online – sign up for Familoop Safeguard trial to stay ahead of the game, guide your child’s digital use smartly and succeed in parenting.