Writer offers tips on monitoring your child’s online access
By Crystal Brisbin, Parent Support Partner, Newaygo County Mental Health
N3- Newaygo County Mental Health has been providing services to the community for the past half century. As part of their celebration we are running a series of articles highlighting the good work that has been done as well as the good work currently being done. Today Crystal Brisban shares some suggestions for parents in this digital age.
Today, it is easy for us to be occupied by technology. As the years pass it seems that we are presented with increased convenience and exposure to online activities. Smart phones are now mini computers and travel with us on a daily basis. Leaving your phone at home or losing it causes anxiety as we are temporarily unable to access information that may be important to our day. Children are given smart phones at an earlier age and have become accustomed the carrying one as well. Being able to contact your child is much easier than it has been in previous decades. Knowing that our children are safe and have the ability to reach out to us offers a sense of security.
Unfortunately, with each positive of technology a consequence may follow. We want to examine limits and the safety that comes with convenience but we do not always know how to approach. As a parent, I have noticed my children have been more focused with virtual friends and less social in “real life”. Communications skills are present, but I wonder how, or if, they will thrive within the community as they become adults. Online communications are not always as they appear and it becomes easier for predators to manipulate children into giving information that places them in harm’s way.
Monitoring what is being accessed online is not an easy task if caregivers do not have the understanding on how to do so. There are several apps that can be used to limit time and content that your child is exposed to. Many of them charge a fee. I recommend that you research specific apps in order to understand how to work with them and set them up. If your child has a screen lock it is important to know how to get past it. Privacy is a privilege that is earned and more trust can develop as our children age. Young children are not aware of online dangers, even though they may think so. Parents may not be aware either. Researching apps or programs before letting your child use them will give insight regarding possible dangers. It is much easier to deny the use of a program than it is to take it away.
Children learn how to maneuver technology through online research and through their peers. Downloaded VPN’s (Virtual Private Networks) will provide the ability to travel online discreetly and without being tracked. They will also provide a way to get past control settings and blocked content. The following article through You are Safe Online provide more information on VPNs and suggestions on how to approach the situation with your children.
We all want to trust our children and monitoring their activity may make them feel as if you have invaded their privacy. Therefore, monitoring may cause an uncomfortable situation. It is important to speak about monitoring with your child and assure them that it is not an accusation of being untrustworthy or untruthful, but the role of a parent. Keeping our children safe extends beyond travels outside of the home and is not an easy task. Staying one step above what your child learns may help you keep them secure from online dangers. Family Online Safety institute provides a multitude of information that is extremely insightful. You can access their webpage at www.fosi.org.
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