Internet platforms aren’t only providing kids with more ways to interact—they’re tracking those interactions, while the seeming distance of digital interactions makes kids feel safe. Combined, this means kids are more likely to act unwisely and more likely to have foolish actions affect them in the long run.
Some parents react by limiting their children’s access to technology, but this is a short-term solution at best; about 93% of teens under 17 use the Internet. The most helpful thing you can do is give your child good tips for Internet safety so they can make good choices. As part of that process, you may want to consider a monitoring period, in which you allow your child certain digital privileges with the understanding that you’ll be supervising and advising them. Here are some ideas for where to start:
- iPhone Text Message Monitoring:
For parents who rarely text, the amount of communication that goes through SMS might be astonishing. But teens can be unwise with their texting, feeling it’s more private than it really is. This might lead to behavior like sexting, or even sending nude photos made possible by excellent smartphone cameras.
Low-tech monitoring might be as simple as looking through your child’s phone with him or her regularly. If you prefer, third-party iPhone text message monitoring software is relatively easy to find. The best iPhone monitoring software does more than just let you snoop. Instead, it tracks problem words or phrases to help you intervene regarding sex, violence, bullying or depression.
- Social Media Monitoring:
Similar social media monitoring software can allow you to keep track of your child’s online activities, even consolidating them so you don’t need to worry about various accounts. But it’s also important that you talk to your teen about posting photos and videos. Go through the privacy settings on each account together, checking what can be seen only by connections and what is publicly visible.
Tracking your child’s social media interaction is important when it comes to how others are treating them, too, since teens are notoriously bad at calling out bad group behavior. Even though about 68% of teenagers say that cyberbullying is a major problem, 95% of teens on social media say they’ve seen cruel behavior ignored by others in the group.
- Email Monitoring:
Kids are less likely to be emailing questionable content if they have texting and social media capabilities. However, it’s still a good idea to teach your child safe practices. You can kill two birds with one stone by addressing strong passwords. There are password generators online, or you can try the Diceware method to make choosing a strong password a fun activity.
Pick a new password together every two weeks, and go over ways to recognize fraudulent or phishing emails. That way, you can teach your child good habits while also ensuring you have access in case you suspect something inappropriate is occurring.
Remember that surreptitiously using any software can feel like a breach of privacy, even to a child who doesn’t think twice about putting intimate details online. Make it clear that your goal is to build the skills that will allow them to be safely independent in the future.
Parents, how do you provide the best Internet protection for kids? Do you have any social media or iPhone text message monitoring apps to recommend?