As parents, we want to protect our children from danger, especially in the digital age. Cyberbullying, online predators, social media, screen time, phishing--it’s completely different from our childhoods. We can’t avoid technology (because it can be great!), but we can prepare our little ones to be smart online and make the best decisions. What can you do to give your child the tools to succeed online?
Tons of games, apps, and websites will encourage and even automatically redirect your child to social media platforms to interact with more content, which may not even be age appropriate for them. If your concerned about your child getting on social media too early (and getting sucked down that rabbit hole):
Do monitor the game, website, or app your child is using and make sure it isn’t redirecting them to create a social media account to use it
Do check it does redirect your kiddo to social media, that they are only showing age appropriate content
Don't assume the website/game/app will only ask adults to create an account to use their platform--age gates (For example, "You must be x years old to use") are easy to trick and often problematic
Do You Know Who Your Child Is Talking To?
The topic of talking to strangers online is a scary, but necessary reality to talk to your little one about. Your child wants to talk with their friends while playing games online, but open live chats can also allow for strangers to speak to your child. We don’t want our children to assume all people are bad, but being open about the dangers online is important:
Do inform your child about the dangers and risks of talking online to strangers and keep an open line of communication to be honest of anything scary, negative, or inappropriate
Do make sure your computer/tablet/gaming console microphone and video access are automatically disabled and only enabled if you give direct permission
Don't presume that only children are on the apps/websites/games your child is playing
Check Your Bill
Storing our credit card info to make online purchases more efficient is one of the best things to come out of technology (outside of Netflix’s Skip Opening Credits, obviously). However, this can also lead to your child unknowingly making charges to your credit card like you’re playing Monopoly. We know a few parents who found their children were frequently making in-app purchases with their stored credit card without their knowledge for charges in the quadruple digits. Oops!
Do make sure that the app/game/website doesn’t link to your credit cards or other forms of payment
Do disable In-App Purchases or create a separate account for your child on their device to avoid any uh oh moments with your credit card bill later on
Don't store your payment information on your computer or smart device without the necessary protection like a protected password, Touch ID, or Face ID.
Pop Up Video
Pop up ads are the mosquitoes of the online world--annoying and unavoidable. As parents, we know to exit out of them, but what about when your child is using your laptop/tablet/phone? With bright colors and interactive designs, it's almost impossible for a child to resist, which can lead to downloading harmful content or collecting your child’s personal information without your consent. To get rid of those pop up mosquitos:
Do install AdBlockers to block pop ups and prevent your child from accidentally downloading harmful content
Do review the game/app/website before letting your child use it to understand the content of the ads
Don't allow your child to enter their name, phone number, email, or any other personal information in the app or website to make sure their personal information is protected
Modern parenting can be challenging, but we aim to help families like yours stay informed and safe in the digital age. Want to leave any suggestions for future articles? We’d love to hear your ideas by DMing us @myticktalk. See you next time!