You’re a busy mom with a growing list of responsibilities. Is it really your job to teach your kids about online citizenship and safety? Aren’t the schools doing that already?
Today, most children start using the Internet by age 3. Yes, that’s right! If you allow your children access to your smartphone or tablet, they have access to the Internet. Since most children that young aren’t going to school yet, it is important to talk with them yourself. Here are five tips to help you teach your children to be savvy technology “GEEKS.”
- “G” – Get Involved. Take the time to find out what your children are doing online. I know firsthand how nice it is when the kids quietly entertain themselves so I can get housework done or supper made, but it’s important to check-in and ask simple questions. Make sure your child knows to come to you if they see something that makes them uncomfortable, and don’t overreact or blame them. You want to keep open lines of communication.
- “E” – Establish Limits. Many of us are concerned about how much time our kids spend on the Internet. Set time limits, such as 30 minutes each school night and maybe longer limits on the weekends. You can even have your child sign a contract so there is no confusion. There are apps that can help with limits. For example, Screen Time is a free iPhone app that allows you to set a time limit on your child’s use of the device. Before your child can access the iPhone again, you must enter a four-digit pin-code.
- “E” – Emphasize Privacy. Make sure children never give out personal information online. They should also avoid opening e-mails from people they don’t know and should never agree to meet people they meet online.
- “K”- Keep Focused on Positivity. The risk of cyberbullying is ever-present in our social media world. We need to ensure that our children keep things positive and that the photos they share of themselves and others are respectful. When she was just 7 years old, I explained to my own daughter how online activity can affect her chances at scholarships and jobs someday. She understood it!
- “S” – Study Resources. There are many useful websites and apps available to help your family create positive Internet habits. Here are a few of my favorites:
Our kids are growing up in a social world. We can embrace the wonderful aspects of technology, while still protecting them. With open and honest communication, you’ll be able to keep your Super Mom status!