We can’t escape the fact that technology is a significant part of every child and teenager’s life. As parents, there are some precautions that you can take to keep your child safe online without having to lock down all of their electronics.
Make Internet or cell phone use less scary can be a scary with these tips and tools. In the end, remember that practice makes perfect—for you and them. You consistently teach them how to be responsible technology users while practicing how to give them distance to explore what technology has to offer their lives.
Know what your child is doing online.
You may not be able to monitor you child’s every move while they’re online, but software programs like NetNanny can provide some peace of mind. NetNanny sets security parameters on your computers so certain sites cannot be accessed. It can also send details on the sites they do access, allowing you to see if they’re up to something concerning or suspicious.
If you’re more concerned about activity on social media, MinorMonitor specifically monitors your child’s activity on Facebook and Twitter and provides you with reports about their activity.
Set up strong passwords.
It’s tempting to use a password that’s easy to remember, and worse, to use the same password across all of your accounts. Don’t give in to the temptation. Using the same password can enable hackers to break into numerous accounts that you have with just one guess, putting you and your children at risk.
The number one password rule to teach your kids: it should have nothing to do with personal details about your life.
Instead, your password should be: something they can easily remember but not that a random stranger can easily guess. Also be sure to emphasize that your child should never share their passwords with anyone under any circumstances.
If you and your children struggle to remember the unique passwords you created, security experts recommend using a password manager:
“Using a master password, these programs will catalog and secure the login info for every account you own, and most of them come with a browser plugin that allows you plug in any login on the fly while you browse,” according to How to Protect Your Digital Identity and Lock Down Sensitive Data. Recommended password managers include:
Use two-factor authentication.
If you want to increase the security on your computer or the accounts that your kids access, install two-factor authentication. Two-factor authentication adds an extra layer of security by providing a second security “stop” while accessing the computer or a specific account. Two-factor authentication includes:
- Answering a preset security question
- Recognizing a generic photo
- Using a pin code
Use apps to track your kids.
Apps like Life360 allow you to create circles of contacts. Within the circle, you can see where your child is located and get text alerts when they leave or arrive home. Life360, in particular, even has a safe driving app that can be used for teenagers that are newly on the road, complete with driving reports that share their maximum speed, hard braking, and cell phone use on each trip.
There are a wide variety of other GPS-enabled apps that allow you to track your child’s whereabouts at any time, including:
Improve home security.
Keeping your child safe online is important, but what can you do to keep kids safe at home? Hi-tech, yet surprisingly inexpensive security options allow you to monitor what’s happening in and around your home. Security cameras monitor what’s happening in your home when you’re not there, as well as monitor who is coming and going. The best part: most security systems are now synced with your mobile phone, so you can check-in, whenever and wherever, as long as you have service.
A video doorbell is an especially valuable security feature, allowing you to monitor who comes to the door when you’re not home. You can see the person at the door, when the system is synced with your phone, allowing you to monitor the door for your kids.
In some cases, you can even respond to the person at the door regardless of where you are, with the visitor never realizing that you might not be there. This can deter potential intruders, keeping your kids safe during those hours after school or anytime they may need to be home alone.
Keep Your Child Safe
There are plenty of ways to keep your kids safe, physically and emotionally. Use these tools and tips to teach kids how to protect themselves, while keeping a watchful eye over them until they do.
Christy Mossburg has been writing for 11 years. She writes about family, education and professional writing, and has been featured on a wide variety of lifestyle blogs. She lives in Maryland with her husband and dog, and occasionally her two college-aged kids. You can follow her on Twitter @christymossburg.