Thank you to U.S. Cellular for allowing me to be a member of their Blogger Brigade. All opinions are 100% my own. Take a look at this Parent-Child Agreement if you’re looking to set some ground rules for cellular use within your family.
How safe is the Internet? It’s a question that you hear often but there’s no one size fits all answer. I’ve personally never had anything horrible happen because of internet use, but that’s not to say there have never been issues. We have had our debit card numbers stolen (and coincidentally about $500 worth of socks purchased…weird right?). But I say nothing horrible because we’ve never had weird stalker people or our kids be targeted or anything super serious. That being said, it does happen and it doesn’t necessarily only happen to people who aren’t cautious or who don’t monitor what their kids are doing online. Some of these creepers and thieves are good…they’re real good. A little bit of knowledge goes a long way and there are some things you can do to help ensure that your family’s time spent surfing the web, making friends, and buying whatever your heart desires is a little bit safer.
I know my son (14), like many children and teens, goes online for a variety of reasons, from school assignments to staying informed about the things that matter to him. Pokemon for example…I don’t get it, but evidently it’s a pretty popular thing. He’s also at the age of using social media, like Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat to communicate with friends. And, of course, he’s accessing entertainment online – gaming, downloading music, reading books and magazines, watching movies, TV shows and YouTube videos within the limitations that we set as a family. Given the frequency of hacking incidents, cyberbullying and phishing scams, it’s a good idea for parents to have open discussions about guidelines about what is – and isn’t – appropriate for your children to access and share online.
The average age children receive cellphones is 13, according to a recent U.S. Cellular survey. Safety is cited as the main reason for this decision. My son got his first cellphone when he was 11, but for the very same reason, safety…we live in a rural area and that’s when he began riding the bus home and being home by himself about 30-45 minutes before I arrived home from work. Since we didn’t have a landline, it was the best decision for us to make sure we had contact whenever we needed it and so far, it’s been a great decision.
Another recent study by the Pew Research Center found 92 percent of teens report going online daily, with 24 percent noting they go online “almost constantly”. While smartphones and tablets,like my Samsung Galaxy Tab that often gets commandeered by my kiddos, can enhance and simplify our lives, sometimes parents struggle with how much freedom to give their kids online. Since every family is different, U.S. Cellular’s goal is simply to be a resource for information to help parents have open communication with their kids about Internet activity so they can make the best decision for their family.
The majority of parents establish rules about their child’s cell phone usage, and seventy percent of respondents in U.S. Cellular’s most recent survey noted they always or frequently monitor their child’s cell phone use which is a great start. Some additional tips to help you monitor your children’s online activities and facilitate conversations about the use of mobile devices include:
- Have an agreement with your children. U.S. Cellular has created a Parent-Child Agreement to help guide families’ conversations about mobile phone usage. The agreement focuses on safety and etiquette, and it’s customizable based on each family’s specific needs.
- Discuss appropriate online communications: Beyond texting, increases in the use of social platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat have opened up new communication pathways for teens. U.S. Cellular recommends that families discuss the importance of never posting harmful or hurtful comments on others pages and always being responsible for what is said online.
- Set boundaries for online sharing. Make sure your child knows to never share personal information online. That can include their name, age, address, school and sports teams, as well as any passwords. Also, remind them to communicate only with family or friends and not to answer unsolicited requests or texts.
- Post photos appropriately: We all know how eager kids are to capture and share photos, but today’s kids don’t realize that once those images are online, they are in the public domain and can even be modified by others. Talk about guidelines for sharing photos with friends and alert them to never post photos which could contain information about where they live or be seen as inappropriate. It’s also best to not post or share photos or videos of others without their consent.
- Use parental controls. The NQ Family Guardian app is available for $4.99 a month on Android devices and provides safety and security by monitoring your children’s location and mobile usage. This service allows parents to review their child’s calls and texts, and restrict certain websites and apps. Children can even send their parents an alert with the simple press of a button if they are in trouble or find themselves in an uncomfortable situation. For iOS users, there is a wide range of parental-control options that are automatically available in iOS 9’s Settings app.
How safe do you feel the Internet is? How does your family establish rules and monitor adherence to those rules? Let me know in the comments below and thanks for reading!
Rachel Mouton saysJuly 5, 2016 at 6:29 am
These are great tips! I’ve never had anything happen that couldn’t be fixed, but I sure have heard some horror stories . Thanks for the help 🙂
Melanie Smith saysJuly 5, 2016 at 7:06 am
I have to say that for me internet has been very safe, thanks God! But I think we have to be really careful with some kind of things we post in social media. We never know who read those things.
Jasmine Eclipse saysJuly 5, 2016 at 7:38 am
This is a great post because Internet safety is SO important. For someone who works primarily on the Internet, I have become so much more self-aware of the dangers online. These are great tips!
bryan murphy saysJuly 5, 2016 at 7:39 am
It is always a good idea to take extra precautions with security online. Especially with kids around.
tara pittman saysJuly 5, 2016 at 1:44 pm
I feel safe online. It is my boys that I worry about as they are still learning.
Amy Jones saysJuly 5, 2016 at 2:01 pm
Excellent tips to keep the safe use of the internet. It can be a very dangerous place for kids if they are not properly informated on how to use it correctly
Elizabeth O. saysJuly 5, 2016 at 8:29 pm
It’s important for kids to know the dangers of the internet and it’s not that you’re trying to scare them but they have to know the reality of the actions that they may take while online. I think it’s good to have a discussion and to give them a reminder from time to time.
Amanda Love saysJuly 6, 2016 at 12:32 am
It’s important to keep track of their online activities especially when you’re dealing with tweens or teens! I think the internet is as safe as you want it to be once you set borders and explain to your child what the risks are.
Kathy Kenny Ngo saysJuly 6, 2016 at 1:12 am
Nice post, very informative. Thanks!
Karlyn Cruz saysJuly 6, 2016 at 2:21 am
Brilliant tips. For me, the internet is not always safe for kids. You must always have some restrictions.
Azlin Bloor saysJuly 6, 2016 at 8:43 am
Those are some really good ideas. I love the parent child agreement, especially.
Milena saysJuly 6, 2016 at 9:08 am
As a blogger I’m online all the time so I have stressed many important safety facts with my children as they come up. I feel good that my boys understand what is appropriate and what is not.
Enricoh Alfonzo saysJuly 6, 2016 at 11:36 am
hahaha I love pokemon too you son has great taste. LMAO $500 worth of socks purchased really? truly haven’t had anything bad happen yet but i’ve had friends who’ve experienced it so great tips shared.
Angela Milnes saysJuly 6, 2016 at 3:46 pm
These are good safety tips. We do encounter problems from time to time especially on youtube and have to keep an eye on it. Angela from Daysinbed
Echo saysJuly 6, 2016 at 7:48 pm
I think having open communication is so important. That way, if a problem does arise, they will be comfortable coming to you and talking to you.
Yona Williams saysJuly 7, 2016 at 6:41 pm
I don’t feel the Internet is safe at all for young users without supervision. I worry about my nephew all of the time. I don’t think he thoroughly understands all of the things that go on there. He’s already downloaded hundreds of dollars on apps before, as well as viruses onto my Mom’s computer. Password protection took care of that ever since.
Caroline F saysJuly 7, 2016 at 6:57 pm
I think having a contract with your kids is a great idea. It helps define boundaries and lets the kids know what is acceptable.
Kathy Kenny Ngo saysJuly 9, 2016 at 4:20 am
Yes, internet is pretty safe. Not unless you use it the wrong way. Internet gives us information, but not all information they feed are good. The best thing to do is to make sure your child is using the internet good.
Marielle Altenor saysJuly 9, 2016 at 7:27 am
I didn’t get a cell phone until the age of 19! I don’t plan on making my son wait that long, but I think 13 is still a bit young. There’re so many things that can be accessed online nowadays. When I do get him a cell phone, I will for sure get something to monitor his usage.
Jenjen saysJuly 10, 2016 at 7:10 am
Fantastic pointers you listed. Every information seems to be a click away nowadays so we should be extra careful.
oana79 saysJuly 10, 2016 at 8:00 am
I have been a blogger for four years now and never had any issues online. Saying that, when my daughter gets to the age of using social media, I will make sure she is fully aware of online predators and never posts anything that might expose her.
Anna nuttall saysJuly 14, 2016 at 10:29 am
Too all you bloggers, when you buy a domain you should all look at your whois details as a a lot of hosting companies exposes people address. If anyone look up http://www.teddybearareyoucrazy.com on whois and you will see all the webmaster (or mistress) details such as there home address.
As you can imagine this can attract weirdo and for people to see where you live. So send an email to your host explaining that you don’t want your details available on whois and they should (unless you got an unhelpful one like mine but let not get into that here) change it for you.
It worthwhile to look into to keep you safe online. xxx