Written by Jenny Reese, MIM Intern
It’s summer! With kids spending more time at home during the summer break, parents need to make sure their computers and homes are protected. We know that parents cannot completely protect their kids from every bad thing, but knowledgeable, proactive parents can serve as a resource and an advocate to their children. To be a successful resource and advocate for your kids, here are a few tips:
1. Be in the know!
Be that parent who is social media-savvy. Create an Instagram account, a Facebook account, or a Twitter account, and follow your kids and their friends. This is a great way to follow your child’s social media activity while also learning more about their friends and their social circles. Also, remember not to embarrass your child! You don’t want to risk getting de-friended.
Be aware of how your child spends his or her time on the Internet. What games are they playing? Who are they talking with? Who are their Facebook friends? What do they tweet on Twitter? In an article by NetNanny, the CEO, Russ Warner, mentions a few apps to be wary of. A link to the article can be found here. Also, remember that Twitter and Facebook both have problems with pornography and sexual predators—these social media sites are not continually monitored for offensive material. Creating a social media account only takes a few seconds, and when the account has been created, the user can instantly get connected with millions of people.
2. Install filters, especially if your child has a smart phone.
Many parents don’t realize that smartphones provide easy access to unfiltered Internet. Every device that can access the Internet should have a filter on it. A few good options are Covenant Eyes, Net Nanny, and Mobile Web Guard.
3. Set boundaries. Teach your kids to respect those boundaries.
Discuss the rules with your child. Consider signing a family contract that can be posted next to the computer.
Here are a few ideas for boundaries:
- “only chat online with people you know”
- “only use the Internet for 30 minutes a day”
- “only visit trusted websites”
- “speak up if you see or read something that makes you uncomfortable”. Encourage your kids to talk to you about their Internet use, and create an open and honest environment.
Small tips like these can help prevent problems with pornography and sexual predators. In our homes, we need to be proactive in being a resource and advocate for our children. However, we also need to show our kids that not all technology is bad! We should show them that social media and technology can be used to their advantage. Social media and technology can be used as a great tool for learning, for maintaining social connections, and for positive entertainment. In order for technology to be a great tool, we simply need to be smart consumers. Have a safe and fun summer, and remember to protect your kids and your homes!
If your child only wants to surf the Internet all day, here are some fun activities to get them off the couch:
- Make a homemade water park
- Have summer reading contests
- Go on a nature walk
- Put on a play
- Go to the dollar theater
- Go bowling
- Build a fort
- Have a tea party
- Go to the zoo
- Go camping
- Attend a museum
- Do sidewalk chalk
- Make ice cream in a bag
- Go for a bike ride or hike
- Take a picnic to the park
- Have a craft day
WRITTEN BY JENNY REESE
Jenny is a recent graduate from Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. At BYU, she studied public health and business management while working as a research assistant. This fall she will be starting a master’s program in public administration at the University of Utah. Jenny enjoys biking, sewing, and spending time with friends and family.