Think about how wide the gap is between your Internet savvy and your kids’. Now think about the likely gap between your Internet skills and the skills of your grandchildren. When the time comes to educate that next generation on Internet safety, you’ll be left in the dust. You have to do everything you can right now to make sure your children know the dangers, and can safely navigate the murky waters of the online world enough to pass on that knowledge to their kids, whatever that world may look like.
There are many ways you can monitor Internet activity on your children’s devices, as well as many levels of involvement. Some parents exhibit very little (if any) control on their kids’ Internet habits, reasoning that it’s just a “virtual” world, and therefore nothing bad can really happen.
And other parents have a much better grasp of what’s really at stake.
Over 90% of teenagers (ages 12-17) spend time online. Over 70% of them have social networking profiles. Over 45% regularly upload photos online. And almost 15% upload videos. The simple fact is, the information your children are putting out on the Internet will be there forever. It does not go away. And even if the photos or videos they upload are seemingly harmless, deviant predators and mentally unbalanced sociopaths can pick out a whole host of details from that information — even without a geo-tag.
Programs such as iPhone monitoring software and Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram monitoring tools can help parents keep track of their kids’ Internet activity, in order to ensure that the information they’re providing, however unwittingly, isn’t falling into unsavory hands. It can also be used to make sure that your kids aren’t seeing things that they shouldn’t be, such as gratuitous violence or pornography.
But an Instagram monitoring tool can never take the place of good old-fashioned communication with your children. Talk to them about the Internet, and the things they might see there. Be upfront with them about the dangers they could face online. Should you terrify them into never going online again? No! In today’s world, that’s not even an option. But being straightforward with them could mean the difference between a life filled with well-dodged bullets and a sobering experience that could have been avoided.
Do you have any handy tips for Internet safety? Please share them in the comments below.