Summer = more free time for kids. More free time for kids + screen time = potential for trouble. Of course, not all kids are going to wind up on dangerous sites, accidentally or on purpose, but the potential is there a little more in the summer. So what can you do? We’ve recommended getting filtering software before, and that’s a great option, but there are some other things you can do every day along with that.
1. Set Limits.
If you limit your child’s online time, you decrease the chance they’ll stumble upon something they shouldn’t. Decide up front how much screen time you’ll allow each day and share that information with your child. This screen time tracker and these screen time tickets will help.
2. Check History.
You should make a habit of checking your child’s online viewing history. Here’s how to do it. You can do this on all of their devices–computers, iPads, and cell phones. If the history has been erased, or is set to private, casually ask your child about it.
3. Know Passwords.
Be up front with your children that you will need to have their passwords for all of their devices and for all of their social media sites. Once you have the passwords, check these sites regularly to see what your child is seeing and posting.
4. Prepare for the Worst.
Hopefully your child will not accidentally come across something objectionable, but you’ll still want to prepare for the “just in case.” Author and physician, Meg Meeker, suggests saying something like this, “First, I want you to know it’s not your fault that this popped up on your computer. Unfortunately, there are some bad things on the Internet. But now that you’ve seen it, this gives us a chance to talk about what you should do if it happens again. When inappropriate things do show up on your computer, close the screen as quickly as you can. And, don’t seek out this type of thing. If you do, it can lead you down a dark path.”
5. Get Monitoring Software.
This is something we’ve mentioned before, but it’s the first line of defense in keeping your children safe online. Here are some ideas for specifically monitoring activity on your child’s phone.
And a final note for us…the grown ups. Let’s try not to use phones, iPads, or other electronics as our go-to when we need to distract or calm down our kids. Limit, limit, limit.