8 Tips from SoCal Savvy Mom and AT&T to Keep Kids’ Identity Intact in a ‘Share’-Happy Age
As a mom I always keep an eye on what my child is doing online, for us this is usually learning websites. But you never know who is on the other side of the computer, even on kid sites. Something crazy I just found out is in 2012, researchers estimated that more than 80 percent of children under 2 years old already had a digital profile! Yes, an online presence of some kind mainly because of their parents’ online activity. Additionally, older children spend almost eight hours consuming media every day through TV, online games, mobile apps and social media. 8 hours!
Kids are growing up online more publicly than ever before. Embarrassing photos and videos that used to be reserved for family are now wafting out over the Internet and onto social media networks. Below are some tips on how to keep your children safe in the ‘share’ happy world we now live in.
- Think before you share. Could this photo or video come back to haunt your child or your relationship with him or her? Is this something they will want in their digital portfolio? Some things are better stored in your heart and memory instead of on the Internet.
- Share judiciously. You don’t have to go all or nothing. There are many ways to share photos online with distant grandparents that don’t involve putting them in the public domain. This is an issue for us as my in-laws live on the coast in Florida, and they are not the most digitally savvy. One way to send them the photos without over-sharing on social networks is to set up a password-protected site on a photo-sharing site such as Picasa Web Albums™. Apps such as Evernotelet you do much the same thing from your handheld devices. DayOne is an app for journaling that lets you selectively and easily share entries with others. You can also use Facebook privacy controls and photo albums more than most of us do to limit who sees which photos on that site.
- Be part of your kids’ online world. As kids begin to venture online themselves, run alongside the bicycle for as long as you need to. Insist on having your kids’ passwords to their Facebook pages and know what’s going on in their online lives—just as you do in their offline lives. For young ones, make it fun with apps like Digital Passport. Check your middle schooler’s Facebook page to see if there are postings that might make them feel sad or bad—and maybe send a quick pick-me-up text. Friend your teens on Facebook; it’s a valuable glimpse into their world.
- Help teens see their online postings through adult eyes. As your teens wriggle out of your online grasp, help them understand how adults view postings that they and their peers think are like totally hilarious. The college admissions officer or HR director will not be smiling. There are many people who have not been hired because of what their Facebook postings say about them. We can show our kids real examples we all probably know someone in our own circle of friends who posted something and it didn’t end well. Some young people who have had cherished dreams blocked by dumb pictures on Facebook is so sad, don’t let this happen to your child.
- What would grandma say? Before you do anything with a camera, cell phone, or computer, imagine the person who means the most to you standing over your shoulder. If you’re OK with that person seeing what you’re about to do, go ahead. If not, don’t do it. I think this is something that should be done in everyday if you wouldn’t do whatever it may be in front of your parents or grandparents odds are you shouldn’t be doing it at all.
If you are more concerned with managing the amount of your child’s screen time, there are ways to help your kids develop balanced screen time habits with these three tips:
- Online: Set firm rules and stay alert
Kids should clearly understand online time limits and consequences for breaking the rules. Keep computers in a common area of your home so you can supervise usage. We never let our son play the computer or iPad within two hours of bedtime, we usually read books in the evenings.
- Phone: Enforce appropriate behavior.
Set clear expectations for responsible smartphone use. There are tools you can use to restrict times of day the phone can be used for messaging, browsing, and outbound calling.
- TV: Make TV a reward, not an expectation
Be sure that homework, chores, and family activities come first. Treat TV viewing as a reward for good behavior or completing tasks. We have been playing a lot of board games lately. The new games that are a hit at our house are Bounce Off and Pop the Pig, believe me Bounce Off is just as much fun for the adults as the children!