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Digital Security

Tips for Parenting Kids and Their Technology

Photo: Courtesy of McKaela Lee

Ben Halpert

Founder, Savvy Cyber Kids

A sampling of media headlines covering any several-day period looks something like this: Of teens in a relationship, 28% have been victims of digital dating abuse; Viral prank sending kids to hospital; School girl apparently broadcasts own suicide on social media; Fortnite predator exploited Mid-Columbia kids through Xbox.

Many parents are under the false impression that if their children are home in their rooms, they are safe. Nothing could be further from the truth. The reality is that allowing children to be in their rooms online all night is likely worse than bringing them to a busy part of a major city and abandoning them. A loving parent would never do the latter but unknowingly does the former on a daily basis.

Why the dichotomy? Because parents know what it is like to walk down a crowded street — to be bumped, pushed, approached, and harassed (or worse!) by strangers. Parents do not know what their children experience every time they are immersed in a screen experiencing their favorite social media app, game, or site. 

Would you allow your 6-year-old to play unsupervised in or near a busy street where they could be hit by a car? Of course not! You would make sure they were playing in a safe location where you could keep an eye on them. Why? Because even if you told your child a million times not to run in the street, they will still do it. 

Taking charge

Our children cannot make the right decisions all of the time, so we as parents need to set boundaries for them, in both the physical and cyber worlds. When it is bedtime, remove the technology from your child’s room; take away the street they can unwittingly wander into when they are supposed to be sleeping.

As parents, we need to educate ourselves and our children, starting at 3 years old, to be aware of the dangers they are up against every time they get absorbed by the glowing light of a screen. They must be able to respond appropriately when one of their online “friends” asks for their name, where they live, a picture of themselves without clothes on, or a video of them molesting their younger sibling. 

Tools of the trade

Read your youngest children “The Savvy Cyber Kids at Home” book series. Download the Digital Parenting (and Grandparenting) Guides to Technology. Get the Savvy Cyber Kids daily conversation starter questions on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to have the tech talk with your kids during carpool, while running errands, or at your device-free meals.

As parents, we can also leverage the power of technology to help us raise our children in today’s environment. 

Parental control and monitoring solutions are a great addition to your digital parenting utility belt, but they never succeed in isolation. Parental controls need to be paired with open dialog in your home about what your children are experiencing with their technology and what they have yet to encounter. Two of the most unique digital parenting technologies on the market today are Bark and Gabb Wireless. 

We are here to help. You got this!

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