8 min read
Many of our children are doing just fine online. They are making the right choices, engaging in positive interactions, and making the most of the connected world. So how do we as parents ensure that our kids continue making the right decisions, and keep them safe and smart online? If cybersafety and digital parenting evoke feelings of anxiety, fear, and confusion, you aren't alone.
According to survey conducted by the Family Online Safety Institute:
"When considering potential benefits and harms of technology, parents’ top-of mind focus tends to be on the positive impacts on children’s learning and ability to stay informed. They report a variety of potential harms that come to their minds, with concerns about online stalkers or predators and inappropriate content mentioned most often."
That's why Codeverse hosted a panel on Tuesday, November 14th titled "Parenting in the Digital Age" as part of our new Speaker Series, which focuses on hot-button tech topics in our community.
Tuesday's panel was hosted by Codeverse co-founder Katy Lynch and included guest speakers:
Keith Puckett Serial Entrepreneur
Elisa All Founder, 30 seconds.com
Francielle Daly Author of “Confessions of a Full Time Mum” and CEO of Full Time Mom
Tuesday’s talk resulted in two fundamental takeaways for parents: the necessity of talking early, often, and openly with children about their digital activities, and the value of technology that allows parents to better understand and monitor what their kids are doing online.
First, the best defense against common concerns such as cyber-bullying and online safety is open and honest communication. It’s valuable to invest the time to explain to your child why monitoring their online activity is important. Let them know your reasoning for keeping tabs on their digital life. It can also be helpful to give (age-appropriate) real-world examples of what can go wrong.
If you’re unsure of how to initiate this important conversation, there are plenty of ways to get started. For example, you may want to draft a family contract for online safety- having rules in writing makes boundaries ultra-clear, and a contract is an awesome jumping-off point for starting conversation. You can create your own, or borrow this template from safekids.com. For further reading, psychiatrist Jodi Gold wrote the book on effectively communicating expectations to children and modeling appropriate and healthy screen-time habits. You can also check out this article on talking to your kids about their online activities.
Once you’ve discussed that you will be monitoring their digital activities with your child, it’s beneficial to utilize software designed to help you do just that. Apps such as Qustodio and MobSafety Ranger Browser help you check in on your child’s browsing history and set up parental controls, such as time limits or blocking certain websites. For younger children who enjoy watching videos on cell phones, computers, or tablets, VideoMonster allows parents to choose which videos are available to their children while eliminating advertisements or linked content which may be inappropriate. Finally, apps like Nischint and uKnowKids provide parents with a complete picture of what their children are doing on their cell phones- from browsing to texting to social media. Apps such as these may be ideal for older children who have their own devices.
While there may not be a one-size-fits all answer to the question of protecting our kids in a digital world, solutions do exist that can be tailored to fit your family's unique situation. Though the idea of your child interacting online may initially cause anxiety, you can take comfort in the fact that safe, responsible technology use is absolutely possible with the proper tools and open, frequent communication.
Stay tuned for National Computer Programming Education week and join us on on December 5th from 5:45 to 7:00 p.m. for “Why Kids Should Learn To Code!” Reserve your ticket here.