Time for the talk- the tech talk
Internet and mobile phone monitoring is a tricky topic to address as a parent. Technically speaking, you are well within your rights to not only worry but also take precautions to keep your children safe online. The best part is that you are not alone in your sleuth-inducing paranoia. A survey extracted from Statista noted that an overwhelming number of 94% parents monitored the contents their children accessed online. So yes, this is a thing that parents everywhere do.
However, monitoring your child without letting them know about it bears some risks. And we are not talking about the tantrum that they will throw when they find out. In this digital parenting tips and guide edition, you will learn not only why it is important to have this talk with your children but also how to go about it. Without further ado, here is all you need to know about the tech talk.
Ditch the sneak monitoring technique
When services allowing parents to monitor child online activity became available they were an instant hit. They promised everything from phone call and text tracking to blocking of sites that weren’t child-friendly. It is therefore not so hard to understand why parents took to these services so fast. However, as technology continues to develop, online predators have found ways around these previously airtight measures. This makes the having the discussion on online monitoring with your child very necessary. Below are the 3 main reasons why.
Earn their trust
Open communication with children is very important when it comes to protecting them from online dangers. Sometimes children suffer in silence because they do not feel like they can talk to anyone about it. Being open with them about your desire to monitor and protect them shows that you care and makes them more likely to come forward with any concerns.
Teach them responsibility
Safe internet usage is a two-sided operation. You might set up all the firewalls in the world but if your child hasn’t learnt how to be responsible it will all be in vain. Talking to them about online security and parental monitoring allows them to learn their role in keeping them safe. That way you have the perfect complement to all your efforts.
Create awareness of the dangers
A study by McAfee discovered that 87% of teens online have either experienced or observed cyberbullying. This is just one of the many dangers out there. Having this all so important talk protects the child by making them away of what could possibly go wrong.
7 Online Safety Communication Tips
Create a safe space
Parent-child communication is only effective if the child feels safe to open up about anything. You can create this environment in a number of ways. Try having the conversation in their room where they feel safe and familiar. Sit down or crouch to their level instead of towering domineeringly over them. It is these little things that make all the difference.
Give reasons for your concerns
Gone are the days where “because I said so” was all the parenting you had to do. Supervising children online activity is justified so it shouldn’t be too hard to explain why you are doing it. This makes them more receptive to the idea.
Use simple examples and analogies
Do not be vague when explaining things like the dangers of the internet and why you want to keep an eye on them. Use real-life stories or analogies that will help put things in perspective for your child.
Listen to their point of view
Kids are smarter than we give them credit for. When having this important conversation, it would be wise for you to hear them out. Understand why they might be reluctant. Then find a compromise that makes you both happy.
Give the child options
This makes the child feel like they are in on the decision making. That way it doesn’t seem like you are imposing your will on them unfairly.
Set your online house rules and boundaries
It could be that you want to track cell phone usage, audit messages or monitor online activity. Whatever it is at the end of the day it is your family and your rules. Do not leave anything hanging after your talk. Let it be clear what you expect and what you are planning on doing to keep them safe.
Come up with a formal online responsibility agreement
Healthy internet use involves getting the child to accept responsibility. One way to wind up this conversation is by creating a device usage contract. This holds the child to their word and reminds both you and them the responsibilities and boundaries that you agreed to.
Give your kid some breathing room…
29% of parents allow their children to use the internet without restriction or supervision. This does not mean that they do not care about their kids’ online safety. They just understand that there is a fine line between monitoring children social media or internet usage and being overprotective. The latter is likely to push them further into the dark corners of this world which are the last thing you would want as a parent.
… But it’s ok to worry
Children online safety is something that as a parent you cannot afford to take lightly. According to research conducted by the UK Office of Communication, 3 in 4 parents actively seek out information and advice on how to manage or avoid online risks for the sake of their kids. Therefore you should not feel guilty about being concerned. The important thing is to get your child in on it to make sure that they too are working to protect themselves. This collaboration is truly the best way to ensure maximum protection from the darkest side of technology and the internet.
About the Author:
Jesse Frank is an advocate for children’s online safety and digital parenting who works at KidGuard as a creative content manager. He is dedicated to sharing knowledge for parents about healthy digital family environment. His personal mission is to help and increase awareness for people to become better digital citizens.