As technology plays an important role in people's lives, children are also being exposed to and using technology at increasingly younger ages. Technology is not only a massive part of our daily lives but also our children's. As of 2020, it is estimated that 2.7 million children aged 11 years and younger have access to the internet through many different devices. Phones, iPads, tablets, laptops and video games are all typical household objects within millions of homes in Canada. And with Apps like Tik Tok, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and YouTube becoming ever more popular among youths it's no wonder children are wanting to use technology more and more. So, the big question for parents is 'How do we keep our children safe online?'
There are many parental controls on devices these days that help parents decide what their children are being exposed to on the internet. This is the best place to start. Setting up your child's tech device so that you know exactly what they can and cannot access will give you some peace of mind. On many devices, parents are now able to control what websites their children can access, set screen times, restrict app usage, manage purchases and generate activity reports. These are all designed to help parents set boundaries for their children in the online world.
In addition to parental controls, there are many kid-friendly social media apps, like Kids Messenger, YouTube Kids and Popjam to name a few. These apps are specifically designed with children's online safety in mind and allow parents to monitor the content. With Kids Messenger, for example, parents can read conversations, see which friends they have been talking to the most and receive weekly updates. They also have an added safety measure when it comes to adding friends, when a child adds a friend, the parents must accept this request for the two children to be able to start a conversation. Social media has become an inevitable way to connect with friends and family, anytime and anywhere. Therefore, many parents are concerned about the content their children are exposed to and whom they are talking to on social media. It is important to find safe social media apps that will provide a better social space for kids to engage, and these Kid-Friendly social apps can help.
Even with all the parental controls set up and kid-friendly apps installed, the best way to teach children about online safety is to talk to them. Let them know what you expect from them when they are online, what boundaries they need to follow, never to share their personal information and how to BE KIND online. Let them know what is appropriate and inappropriate to do during their screen time and encourage them that if they do encounter a problem online that they should come to you. It also helps to do your own research about the internet and online safety, the more you know then the easier it will be to talk to your children about the subject.
Parenting is never easy and trying to parent in an online world is even harder as technology opens thousands of new worlds for children. But with some simple tips and tricks, You’ve Got This!
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