Parents Must Get Involved In Mobile and Internet Child Safety

Even though many parents understand that they should use parental controls on their home computer, many never establish a means for getting the job done.  According to a McAfee survey, most parents left their kids alone while surfing the internet and over half the parents surveyed didn’t know if their kids had a social networking account, like Facebook. Another study indicated that approximately 72 percent of teens do have social networking profiles and almost half of them are public profiles viewable by anyone.

Parents must realize that Internet security is needed across multiple devices. With the advancements in technology, children have Internet access on smartphones, iPads, tablets and other mobile devices. Mobile technology can expose children to not only the good, but also all of the bad on the Internet.  We must look at privacy settings and how all of these devices are set up.

Personal monitoring of mobile devices isn’t always possible since, kids use them on the way to school and even while school is in session.  We really do need to educate our children rather than being helicopter parents. It is all very well putting in software to monitor, but this is the same principle as putting a camera on their head when they are out with friends.

Turning the Tide

The best way to protect your children is to keep an open line of communication in which both you and your children clearly understand some of the very dangerous situations that could be presented online. By downloading Gooseberry Planet this will help your child be educated on online safety issues.

They also need to know what kind of personal information is being published publicly online. Children need to know that telling parents about inappropriate contact with someone on the Internet is appreciated and will not result in a restriction of their cell phone usage.


Hookup Apps and Teen Users: Should We Be Worried?

As if being a child in this world is not stressful enough, there is now pressure on many young teens to download and use hookup apps. There are many free, available apps to choose from, with no parental consent required. While most are made out to be geared towards adults, the horrible truth is that the creators know that kids are using them, and apparently do not care much. Either that, or they just don’t moderate their applications the way that we feel like they should.

Remember AOL dial up chat rooms? You would get kicked out so fast if you even made the slightest remark that was off base. The ninety’s had it right. There was someone moderating every word that was spoken in those days. Unfortunately, this is a totally new era with a totally new set of rules and expectations.

With all of that being said, the fact of the matter is that there are no moderators. No one is watching to make sure that kids are not downloading these apps onto their smartphones or other devices. That is just not the way that it goes anymore. It is the job of us, the parents, to ensure the safety of our children.

Hook Up Apps Are Around Every Corner

Hook up apps are everywhere. You can log in to the google play store and see a ton of them immediately. Let’s use Tinder for example. It’s sole purpose is to match people to other people. Although Tinder Co-Founder Justin Mateen claimed to The Guardian that the app is not a “hookup app”, but is rather a “social discovery platform”, it is very clear in pop culture that Tinder is the reigning hookup app available for users of any age.

Disturbingly, hookup apps like Tinder are all the rage with teens and tweens. More than 7% of Tinder users are between the ages of 13-17 (Tinder users can be as young as age 13!). Popular dating/hookup apps like OkCupid and require users to be at least 18-years-old. However, we all know that it is as simple as lying about your birth year to get around age requirements.

How do we keep our kids from these? What do we do as adults to make the younger generation understand that while it may be the ‘cool’ thing to do, they should not be doing it?

Finding an Answer

The answers are not simple. You can look at your child’s phone weekly and check which hook up app’s are being used. If you find one, the best approach would be to very calmly broach the subject and discuss why you require that they remove it. Keep in mind that smartphone users can disguise an app icon with another, less insidious-looking icon. Take note of all new apps, even if they appear to be inconspicuous.

Another good strategy would be to try to leave the lines of communication open with your children, if they aren’t open already. Maybe try bringing up the silliness of these hook up apps with the older teens in a casual conversation and see what they have to say on the topic. Whatever you do, don’t panic, just listen.

No matter how high our desire is for hook up and dating apps to disappear off of the face of the Earth, the fact is that they just are not. They are here to stay, and probably only getting worse. It is hard for a kid to not feel pressured by their peers, but positive and informed parenting is the greatest tactic to staying ahead of the curve where these things are concerned. Engage with your children, keep tabs on what they are doing and who they are talking to, and do not be afraid to look at their devices to see what is on them.

Hook up apps are a no-no, and as always, we encourage you to talk with your teens and tweens about the safety of all applications and online usage.

Internet Security For Parents

Young children can get into just as much trouble online as their parents. In fact, young children may be more in danger because they do not necessarily know the boundaries of what they should and should not do. Therefore, Internet security should be a primary concern for any parent with a young child.

Keeping Children Away From Sensitive Information recommends the following for children under the age of 5:

KEEP devices like your mobile out of reach and make sure you have passwords/PINs set upon them for the times you might lend them to your child… or for when they simply get hold of them themselves!

It is too easy for a child to start crawling through your personal information and data if they are able to access your phone without having to enter a pin. It is simply the safest to keep those devices locked up and out of reach.

Curbing Child Identity Theft

Quick facts about the prevalence of identity theft:

  • Children are targeted 35 times more often than adults for identity theft
  • 7% of all US households reported some type of identity fraud in 2013
  • 11.5 million Americans on average are victims of identity fraud

In addition to keeping sensitive information out-of-reach from children, parents should inform kids early on about how easy it is for someone to steal money from them online. Teach children to never give out any personal or financial information to anyone online, even if they are communicating with someone who isn’t a stranger. Parents should also check their credit and credit card statements regularly, protect the social security numbers of all family members and use strong passwords.

Preventing Contact with Online Predators

Online predators are still a huge danger to kids surfing the web. A whopping one in five kids has been sexually solicited online and 75% of kids are willing to share personal info online about themselves and their family in exchange for goods and services. We’re even seeing tragic cases in which tweens are “sextorted” by being coaxed or blackmailed into sending predators sexually explicit photos or videos.

No matter how smart you consider your child to be, inexperience can easily lead to a dangerous digital predator situation. Teach your kids to never chat with strangers online, even if a stranger is accepted as a friend or follower within other friends’ social networks. We recommend that you prohibit the use of chat rooms, even the ones that are intended just for kids. Report all online predators here.

Using Parental Controls

It is still wise to use parental controls to enforce Internet security while your child is growing up. There are simply certain things which you do not want them to have access to. If they ask you at some point to turn off those controls, then you should think carefully about if that is what you want to do.  Make sure that they understand the boundaries you set and keep to them.

Digital Parenting is a full time job

Ask the average parent about what their child did on the social networking sites just last night, and they are probably going to have no idea. The problem is not that they are bad parents, but merely that technology has made the job of parenting that much harder. Digital parenting is now a full time job, but there are some measures parents can take to make the job a little easier.

Getting Into The Lives Of Your Children

It may sound like exactly the wrong tactic to use, but just getting into the online lives of your child or children is actually the first step to take to make a difference. Many parents are hesitant to do so fearing the backlash from their child. However, as the Huffington Post explains, many children are actively hiding their online life from their parents,

Studies show that two out of three parents are ignorant of their children’s Internet activities. In part, this is because kids actively hide the things that they are doing.

If parents are privy to every other part of their life, then why would they not expect to also be aware of what their child is doing when he or she is online?

Asking Questions

Parents should first ask their child what kind of activities they do online. They should ask them if they are aware of the various dangers that potentially lurk online. They should also try to make sure that their children inform them about any behavior they find suspicious while they’re online.

Provide Support

Though their safety comes first, your children are of course going to want to use the Internet to socialize and make friends. That is acceptable so long as they stay within safe guidelines and boundaries. If these rules are clearly defined to them, your child should be Ok.