boy textingParenting in the digital age is quite a challenge isn’t it?

You not only have to worry about real life stranger-danger but also about who your kids are interacting with and the content they are being exposed to online.

As a father of three, I know how invaluable the internet is when it comes to teaching and entertaining kids or helping them connect with others. However, it does have a dark underbelly and the world of cyberbullies, predators and inappropriate sites isn’t safe for children.

So how can modern parents make sure that their kids safely navigate the virtual world?

I went searching for pro-tips from techies and hackers-turned parents. After all, they have inside knowledge of how the internet works and understand its perils better than anyone.

Here are 5 of their top-suggestions for safeguarding your children’s online interactions:

  1. Educate your kids early. Start the conversation on online safety with your kids at an early age, preferably as soon as they show an interest in the internet. This way, you’ll have ample time to train them on proper online etiquette as well as equip them to face and manage online threats.
  2. Assert ownership of your gadgets. While it is very well for kids to browse or play games on your phone or laptop, make it clear that the devices belong to you and not them. You are only loaning them out. Taking ownership of your gadgets makes it easy to limit screen time and implement any other rules you deem necessary for the devices’ usage.
  3. Centralize device usage in your home. It’s hard to monitor what your kids are do online if everyone is secreted in their respective rooms. The solution around this is to restrict usage of laptops, tablets, games consoles etc. to a shared family room. This lets you monitor their internet habits and also work in some family time. Additionally, banning devices from your children’s bedrooms will help them sleep better.
  4. Child-proof your devices. Kids are naturally curious so don’t be surprised to find them poking around your emails or other personal documents when you give them your phone. To prevent this, phones come equipped with a Kid’s Mode or Guided Access feature (in the case of iPhones). Activating these features keeps your phone locked on a single app so your kids don’t go wandering where they shouldn’t. Of course, installing lots of educational games wouldn’t hurt either and will keep them occupied for hours.
  5. Secure your home network. Ramp up your home’s internet protection by setting up your router’s inbuilt firewall. Doing this will help you block your kids from accessing certain sites and you can even put limits on what they can download. Also don’t forget to use unique and complex passwords for all your accounts and devices.

Teaching our kids about online safety and getting it right might be a daunting task but it is one well worth doing.

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Tyler Jacobson

As a father of three, Tyler Jacobson lends his parenting experiences for the learning benefit of parents everywhere. For years he has researched and writes for Liahona Academy and other organizations that help troubled boys, focusing on topics surrounding social media use, teenage education, serious addiction issues, mental and behavioral disorders, and abnormal teenage stress. Follow Tyler on: Twitter | LinkedIn
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