Safe and Savvy Kids: Protecting Your Children Online

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Raising kids in today’s digital age isn’t easy. Online interactions are almost as common for young people as face to face connections. 53 percent of children as young as 11 have smartphones according to the national average and NPR. Along with the added ease and accessibility for parents and caregivers a smartphone brings, there is an ever-present need for protection leaving families to question what they can do to ensure their child’s online safety. 

Watch for Signs of Cyberbullying

Today’s teens and preteens have at least a 37% chance of experiencing cyberbullying from either a personally known or online acquaintance. A few things to monitor to identify and deter cyberbullying in your child’s online life include:

  • Reluctance to access the internet including emails and text messages in plain sight
  • Withdrawal from activities/games that were previously enjoyable whether in person or online
  • Your child alludes to bullying at school or online, but without identifying themselves as the victim

Guard Against Child Predators

Every parent knows the unease of the unknown face on the other side of the screen. Protecting your child from a predator includes taking the following steps:

  • Make sure your child understands the dangers of chat rooms and other anonymous communication
  • Teach children not to divulge personal identifying information (like their real name, school, city) to strangers online
  • Use extra technology to help protect them, like monitoring software

Monitoring Software

An effective weapon in the fight for online safety is utilizing a parental control software app, like Bark. The Bark software proactively monitors online activity, making you aware of potential safety concerns in real time. Other features of Bark include:

  • Website filtering and parental content controls
  • Location alerts
  • Content notifications when issues such as bullying, sexual content, and predatory activity are detected
  • Flat-rate pricing to accommodate all family users

Communication

Nothing will replace the effectiveness of an open line of communication as a means to be proactive in the arena of child safety. Start discussing online safety with your child early – before they have online access. Incorporate frequent check-ins to discuss what’s happening in your child’s online life. Work together to develop boundaries within your child’s understanding. It’s important for them to know what to do when they encounter something or someone that breaches those boundaries. Open, honest communication helps when those conversations have to happen. Read more at https://www.nspcc.org.uk about starting the discussion with your child. 

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