We continue with our Back to School theme, Part 2. For those who have older kids, it is equally challenging as it is crucial to keep them safe while developing good habits online.
We know as parents that you can’t protect them from everything, but we can lead by example and consider the following ideas.
1. Consider creating a contract with your teen. Outline what acceptable and unacceptable behavior online is. If you are upfront with your concerns, as well as provide them with an opportunity to earn trust, it will be less of a struggle to reach an agreement. Use this as an opportunity to discuss the positives of technology and how it can make our lives better. Also, review the importance of privacy and make them aware of online predators.
2. For mobile devices, consider using tools offered by wireless companies (i.e., Verizon), that gives you both visibility and control over your kids’ phones. This provides an opportunity to review text messages, websites, block specific apps, and limit screen time.
3. Social Media. This is a personal decision for every family, but consider eliminating social media from your teen’s life. One of my personal passions is Suicide Prevention, and it will be a series I put together in future articles. More and more research is coming to light which links higher risks of suicide in kids directly to social media pressure. What’s worse? The figures are nearly double for girls. Besides suicide, I encourage you to do your own research and reach your own conclusions. Never allow SnapChat or other services for which messages “expire” after being read.
4. Consider leaving devices in a common place during bedtime hours and not letting your teen take them to their bedroom. I know of several families besides my own that lock-up devices at night. This includes laptops, tablets, etc.
5. Prevent all use of the phone while driving. Managing a vehicle, pedestrians, traffic, weather, bad drivers, and everything else is more than enough for the majority of inexperienced drivers.
This is a substantial topic, and I may write a 5-part series that gets into more detail. For now, consider these points and find your comfort level.
The one thing that I will leave you with, keeping in mind that I have a Cybersecurity and Privacy bias, is start with more. I would rather you error on the “safe side,” then ease up as your teen demonstrates trust, rather than take it lightly. Living in this industry, I have seen too many situations where a parent regrets not taking this seriously.