Tips from a Mom/Industry Expert to protect them from dangers in cyberspace
by Jamee Stafford
The holiday season has come to an end, and everyone got exactly what was on their wish list. You got those shoes you’ve been eyeing, grandma got that scarf she’s been looking everywhere for and your children got the latest gaming console on the market, but all you can think about are the dangers that are out there in cyberspace. According to a study conducted by Pew Research Center, 92 percent of teens (13-17 years old) report they go online daily. So, what can you do to protect your children from the dangers of something that seems so inescapable? To assist, Kinetic by Windstream, along with Houston Family Magazine, has crafted a list of best practices to help you better deal with your digitally savvy little ones.
1.) Tweak Location and Privacy Settings
Keeping up with family members through GPS may give you peace of mind, but it’s important to limit your children’s location only to the people who absolutely need it. Believe it or not, many of the photos you or your children take have exact locations attached to them, potentially leading predators directly to your children’s home or school. Be sure your child or teen has their location settings adjusted so that only you and approved family members have access to them.
2.) Watch Out for Downloads
Downloads could contain malware or viruses, especially if you aren’t getting them from a reputable source, so update your child’s gaming systems, along with any Internet security software. Equip your home with a good cybersecurity system, such as a Windstream Shield package, that provides your family with malware and virus protection, protection against identity theft, credit monitoring and even instant access to your credit report and credit score (just in case your little one uses your credit card to purchase something in the app store). Cybercrime can happen without much warning, so it is important to cover all of your bases.
3.) Monitor Your Child’s Activity
If you can’t beat them, join them! Follow your children on all social media platforms, check out their gamer profiles from time to time and keep up with key trends. While you may not have time to be an active user across all platforms, it is important that you monitor their activity from a user’s standpoint. This will help you look for any red flags. Your children may not think about how a post could affect their future. Don’t want to seem like you are imposing on their privacy? Keep the computer in a high-traffic area of your home, bookmark your children’s favorite sites for easy access and talk to your children to see who they are communicating with online.
4.) Keep A Low Profile
Whether you have a tablet-obsessed child or a hardcore-gaming teen, have your kids use avatars instead of uploading their photos to their social media or gaming profiles. Before they get started with these profiles, talk to them about the importance of not sharing too much information about themselves to strangers. You never know how certain information could be used by others, so it’s always better safe than sorry!
5.) Set Some Rules
Establish some rules for your children’s online activity and these rules can vary depending on your priorities. As an example, if you’re worried about voice chats during games — where your children may hear expletives or other foul or lewd language — you can disable that feature. And, don’t forget about your house rules, such as when they can play video games and for how long.
While the Internet, social media and online gaming can help keep your family connected to the outside world, it is important to tackle these issues head-on. As a parent, you may not be completely comfortable having this conversation with your child; however, it is important to start somewhere to ensure your child knows the dos and don’ts of the digital age we live in.
Jamee Stafford, field operations consultant for Windstream in Texas, is the proud parent of an 8-year-old daughter and an 11-year-old son. Her family uses a combination of technologies to keep in touch, especially when she’s at work and they are away at school. Through apps and services, such as WhatsApp and Facetime, Stafford knows that her kids are always a phone call or text message away!
Jamee works with her team at Windstream to ensure that families, just like her’s, are protected against the dangers of the online world. For more information on how to protect your kids online, visit Windstream.com.