Working from home while keeping an eye on your children all day can be challenging.
Although working from home can mean children have more digital access than before because they need to be learning, more time online can make them susceptible to predators.
It’s normal to worry about your children’s online safety, and here three tips for keeping them safe.
1. Communicate with your kids.
Before your children access their technology, or while your children play Minecraft or search YouTube, be blunt and say “remember we don’t talk to strangers, we don’t tell anyone where we live while online, and we don’t tell them our real name.” The Internet and digital learning can be incredibly helpful during this time of distance learning, but also it’s a time to remind kids of the dangers and to be honest about it with them.
Predators go where kids are. That was the theme of a segment on “Good Morning America” this past fall. Most kids are captivated with online games, especially multiplayer games, which actually let strangers interact with your child through the game. In a matter of minutes, your child can be engaged with others who could be years older than your child. Parents can utilize parent controls and pay attention to what goes on by playing the game with the child.
Most parents know which games their kids play, according to data collected about gamers of all ages by the Entertainment Software Association. But what about who is connecting with them through the game?
2. Know what technology your children are using.
A good practice for online safety is keeping your children’s computer and tech gear in sight and in a common area such as the living room.
On Parents.com, in an article by children’s privacy lawyer Katie Goldstein, she states, “Digital interactions are not limited to your smartphone—connected devices like interactive toys, wearables, and home assistants like Alexa and Google Home collect and store a lot of personal information about their users.”
An article on Scholastic.com about keeping kids safe online suggests keeping your kids in sight while they are on their devices, because it’s less likely your child will browse questionable content if he or she knows their parents might walk by at any second.
Becoming obsessed with a certain website or only wanting to play an online game can raise concerns for some parents. Only being interested in one thing can create isolation for a child.
Another thing to keep in mind is to make sure you have access to your children’s passwords and browser history so you can check on what they have been up to online.
3. Talk about self-esteem.
You can limit your children’s time online, but it also may help to make sure their online life is not their only way of communicating socially.
Gaming is fun and capitiving, but it is addictive. Social media apps are also considered a stress relief by many teens, but they can cause low self-esteem.
For both children and teens, it’s important to celebrate your child’s strengths and remind them often of the skills they possess beyond the screen. With Instagram, Twitter and other social media apps, it’s easy to spend too much time looking at picture-perfect images that could lead to distress, depression and low self-esteem for your child.
Self-esteem is a key player when it comes to cyber-predators.
Understood.org, a website dedicated to people who learn and think differently, advocates for self-esteem.
“Online predators often target children who are lonely or who have low self-esteem,” an article states.
Parents should also be aware of what they post online about their kids. Social media posts can affect your child’s self-esteem, a Forbes article reported. Kids may feel embarrassed if you put a spotlight on them too often, Andrew Wittman, founder and CEO of the Mental Toughness Training Center, shared in an interview with Forbes, children can also face cyberbullying.