How to Monitor Your Child Online without Becoming a Helicopter Parent
Undoubtedly, the Covid19 Pandemic is reshaping our world. For one, the elimination of face to face interaction has opened the door for more virtual socialization as school and play migrate to the online space. And who can blame parents for allowing their kids more access to virtual socialization options? But with the greater access comes greater risks. It is therefore important for parents to be ahead of the game technologically. Today we’ll explore some ideas that you can use as you try to function as safety detectives for your kids online.
Disclaimer: Helicopter Online Parenting is Necessary for Some
Depending on the needs, maturity, and age of your child, you should consider total transparency with accounts. In other words, you should have access to all log-in details so you can view your child’s online activities with an ‘insider view’. Alas, some of us have no choice but to be helicopters! These tips are for those parents whose kids can do some amount of independent online engagement.
Educate Yourself and Your Kids
You can’t protect your kids from dangers you don’t even know exist. And children have the natural tendency to be trusting of others. To make matters worse, the internet puts up a sort of smokescreen that makes dangers seem even less menacing. Kids simply don’t know this. So the first step you need to take as a parent is to arm yourself with information. Do some research to find out about the dangers faced by children in the online space. Know what’s possible on each platform and what isn’t.
Kids also need to know what dangers lurk online. To the young mind, the virtual world may seem harmless and this is one of the reasons children are an easy target for online predators. Share examples with them that show the dangers of the online world. Teenagers especially might need to see actual cases to be convinced. Your teen may also believe it is impossible for him/her to fall into the traps that have caught other kids before so it is especially important that you find compelling cases to use. You can also introduce your kids to websites like Cybersecurity Made Simple for Kids – Savvy Cyber Kids that focus on cybersecurity for kids.
Establish Clear Rules and Share Expectations With Your Child/Children
The foundation of your online safety plan has to be the tone you set from the beginning. It has already been established that kids need boundaries. A set of rules and guidelines for online activity helps to establish this and so does a discussion on your expectations for your child’s behaviour online. You could call this your family’s online protocol.
You can ban software downloads or establish a rule that says all downloads should be approved by mom or dad first.
You can have them do quick reports of their online interactions, much in the same way you would ask about their day at school or a play date. You’ll be surprised at how forthcoming your kids can be with their online interactions… and if they aren’t you may be able to pick up some cues that something may have gone amiss.
Create an Account on The Platforms Your Kids Use
Connect with your kids on their social media platforms. Create social media accounts and send connection requests to your kids. You could make it part of the family’s online protocol that everyone connects online.
Some LMSs facilitate parent accounts. The parent account is connected to the student account and allows you to see what your child has been doing on the platform. Check with your child’s school to find out more about this, or do a quick search of the LMS to discover more.
Invest in Good Parental Control Software
Parental control softwares have become quite important these days. While it does not fully eliminate the need for direct monitoring, the right software will allow for more indirect supervision. Depending on the package you purchase, the software can block inappropriate sites and send up red flags when inappropriate contact is made with your child. It can also prevent the downloading of content and programs that could prove dangerous.
To Snoop or Not to Snoop?
Then there is good old snooping- a method that millions of parents have used since.. well since the beginning of time! Many child psychologists, however, have stood against the practice of parents snooping on their kids in the physical world on the premise that it undermines the development of confidence and security and amounts to a breach of trust between parent and child. But the online world is a different kettle of fish altogether. So is it ever a good idea to snoop on your kids online? Essentially, this is a question that each parent needs to answer independently. Parents who are already engaged in online snooping create covert social media profiles and sneak their way into their kids’ virtual social circles. You must be prepared though to face the backlash that comes if your cover gets blown.
Beyond the issue of what methods or combination of methods to use to monitor your kids online is a deeper, more powerful one: today’s kids are exposed to greater online risks than any generation that preceded them. As a parent, the task (and choice) is ultimately yours.