From simple tips to complete home network solutions, here's how to maintain control when your kids are exploring the web.
The internet has changed parenting.
It's amazing and it's terrifying.
As parents, we want our children to become fluent in technology so they have every opportunity to meet their full potential. But we also want them to be safe. And finding that balance is where the real challenge comes in.
If you start with the foundations and incorporate great tools, you can set your children up to have a safe, healthy relationship with technology.
Step 1: Evaluate your children's online habits.
Every family is different in their approach to technology. Some find technology blends very well with their existence, and some find it to be a constant struggle.
As you're analyzing your family's tech habits, these questions are a good place to start:
Who are they sharing and communicating with? Know who they're talking to online. If the relationship wouldn’t make you comfortable in an offline setting, it’s time to reevaluate.
What are they doing online? If they’re spending a good amount of time on any game, site, or app, check it out to make sure you feel good about it.
When are they online? Children can be sneaky, and they have a leg-up already knowing more about technology than us. Be sure the OFF times for screens are consistent.
Where is their exploration taking them? Even something kid-friendly can be a few accidental clicks away from a bad site.
Knowing the answers to these questions- the who, what, when, and where of digital parenting - will give you peace of mind and help you keep your children safe.
Step 2: Talk about it!
Communication is key. Approach the subject with your children in a non-stressful time so that they're open to talking about it. The four questions you evaluated - who, what, when, and where - are a great place to start.
Who do you talk to online? Online friendships can be a great thing, but be clear that the same rules apply online as offline: Be kind. Tell your parents who you're talking to, or if a conversation is mean or inappropriate. And stranger-danger is very real.
What do you like to do online? Check out what they're into, even if it seems over your head. Make sure it looks age-appropriate and doesn't raise any red flags. Bonus points if you watch them play a level.
When should you not be online? They know the rules. Bedtime means bedtime, and no devices during dinner. Set limits on screen time that fit with your family. Better yet, get a Torch WiFi Router and it will enforce those screen time rules you set.
Where are you going online? This is a good time to evaluate those safety pitfalls - things like search engines and YouTube can accidentally lead children to bad content. Set up parental tools to make sure they're safe.
Once you've talked with your children, you'll have a clearer picture and can set expectations. Be supportive of their interests, but consistent and clear in the rules.
(For more tips on starting a 'tech talk 'with your kids, check out this post.)
Step 3: Use tools to help ensure safety.
You can't be everywhere at once. And while open communication is fundamental, there are great tools to help keep the rules consistent when you need to step away and stir the spaghetti.
SafeSearch: Make sure SafeSearch is enabled on the web browser they are using so the results are filtered to be appropriate. On Google, simply go to Search Settings, and select SafeSearch filters. Click turn SafeSearch on and then save!
Parental Controls: With parental controls, you can utilize software, a network appliance, or you can manage access at the source of internet for the home; the router. We have found routers, especially those designed for parents, to be the most secure and robust option.
Using Parental Features: Set up the features and then the rules manage themselves (okay, with a little help). With the Torch WiFi Router, you're able to block bad content, see where they're going online, pause the internet, set bedtimes, and manage screen time. All customizable by child. One less thing to worry about.
(You can check out a full analysis on the parental control options in this post.)
Step 4: Stay engaged.
You've had your Tech Talk, turned on SafeSearch, and have your Torch WiFi Router running smoothly. Bravo, super parent!
Consistency is key. Make sure and have regular check-ins with your children, and make adjustments as they get older. Allow new technology (what is this SnapChat thing?) to open new conversations and learn along with them. And go easy on yourself, we’re all learning here.