As parents, you want to ensure that you are keeping your kids safe online and on social media. However, with all of the apps and sites out there – like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and the Musical.ly app – you may have a lot of questions about teen online safety.
We reached out to 3 online safety experts and asked them to share their best tools and tips for keeping teens safe online.
- Discuss online safety measures
You can protect children by discussing online safety measures with them and, by being receptive to any change of mood they may show. –Andy Wood
Andy Wood, TocoMail, @Toco_Mail
Data shows that a quarter of the teenagers have been cyberbullied in one way or another. Even more, just one out of 10 kids tell their parents about the harassment they are enduring online or via their smartphones. Given this worrisome statistics, it is absolutely crucial to protect your children from the harsh and potentially long-term implications of online bullying – and to start doing this at a very early age too.
You can protect children from cyberbullying by being open to them about it, by discussing online safety measures with them and, in general, by being receptive to any change of mood they may show.
At the same time, we strongly advise parents to help their children fight cyberbullying through certain tools and applications that can filter what your kids see when they go online.
Here are some suggestions:
- My Mobile Watchdog is an app that can help you monitor who can send or receive texts, phone calls and even images and videos to/from your kid. You can discuss with your child what phone numbers to include in the master contact list, but, as the parent, you will be the only one allowed to make changes.
- TocoMail is an app we created to allow kids to communicate via email in a very safe way. The app allows you to create a Safe List of contacts who can email the child. Furthermore, the kid can also add his/her own contacts, but they will be sent to the Monitored List, which keeps emails in Quarantine until you approve or reject them. Also, the app has a filter for keywords that may be used by cyberbullies, to prevent them from coming in contact to your children.
- YouDiligence is a software that allows you to monitor your kid’s social media account by filtering everything that contains keywords that are offensive and/or related to alcohol, drugs, and so on. The reports are sent automatically on your personal email.
Lee Munson, Comparitech.com, @Security_FAQs
If you want to keep your kids safe online there are a number of programs, tools and apps you can install which will help you do just that. When your children are using a desktop, you have the option of using parental control software, built into some operating systems like Chrome, or available to purchase for other systems. By configuring these properly, you will have control over options such as: which websites they can–or cannot–visit, how long they can surf the internet each day, or even which times of day they can open a browser, and much more.
For mobile devices there are in-built options. On Apple devices, Restrictions (Settings > General > Restrictions) allows you to block content on built-in apps such as Safari, or set age restrictions for TV, music and podcasts. Windows 8 offers Kid’s Corner, a sandboxed area that allows your children to view and use only that content which you have deemed appropriate. For Android devices, there is built-in content filtering on the Google Play store which limits the type of apps that can be downloaded and installed on the device.
Beyond that, of course, there are a huge number of parental control apps, kid’s browsers, tools and browser-specific features that can make your kids’ online experience a safe one.
There is, however, something far more useful and functional that you can take advantage of and that is your time. By sitting down with your children, explaining the most common pitfalls on the web and encouraging them to speak about anything they encounter which makes them feel uncomfortable, you will be fostering an open environment in which they will question those things you would like them to steer clear of in the first place.
Stephanie O’Leary, Parenting in the Real World , @CPintheRW
I’m a clinical psychologist and mom of two kids who are definitely more tech savvy than my husband and I. I know first hand that even well-intentioned children can stumble across inappropriate content that can’t be unseen. To make sure my kids are safe, we use Net Nanny to block access to certain types of content (not just specific sites) and monitor social media exchanges. It’s been a lifesaver for me and my family!