Protect your kids on the Internet
I have always tried to not be one of those “hover” parents — the kind who makes sure her child doesn’t fail at anything.
With that said, I do think that I tend to “hover” over my children where the Internet is concerned. There are too many stories on the news these days about kids getting bullied on the Internet.
Facebook is no longer the only app that is used for social media. Instagram, Snapchat and Vine are other options out there. There used to be the argument of whether a parent should create a fake account as a kid so that their child would “friend” this fake kid. Luckily, my kids are still young enough that I am not completely uncool, so I’ve been able to create accounts under my own name and “friend” them on these types of apps. They also think its fun to “friend” people like their aunt or Sunday School teacher, who I’m hoping would tell me if they saw something inappropriate.
What about just a simple email account? We have set it up so that even though each child has his own email account, all received emails are also sent to our parent account. Luckily, the only people they send emails to are grandparents, but I’m sure that will change in the future.
My husband has also set up parental controls on our router using OpenDNS. There is a free version that allows you to set filters to block certain websites or even specific keywords. These controls, because they are on the router, cover every device connected to your home network. I will say, though, that I have run into issues when trying to do things on the network because of the filters — ordering wine, for example, for a family member’s birthday. We also remind the kids that it’s very easy for us to see the browsing history on all devices. I will openly admit that I am hoping they have no idea how to clear the browsing history.
If your children text, you can set their devices up to send you a copy of the text via email. That way you can make sure they aren’t sending something inappropriate. Of course, you can’t see what someone else is sending to them.
If all of these things don’t work, or if you want even more control, you can always go back to “hover” mode and keep the computer that your children use in an open area of the house — the family room or kitchen, for example — that you can easily monitor.
Talk to Stephanie
Stephanie Kreitman is an IT manager, mom to two boys, and a member of Upstate Women in Technology. Follow her @StephKreitman.