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Keeping Your Kids Safe Online This Holiday Season

Not an easy task!

The kids will soon be off from school for holidays. Parents, while carrying on with jobs and life in the real world, will need to think of ways to keep kids entertained, and make sure that they do not get up to mischief – especially online.

Busy moms hate to admit that there are times when the internet is allowed to babysit in a crunch situation. But before you resort to the internet, here are some basic rules you can set that they must adhere to:

  • Explain that once something is posted, it is there for the world to see, and cannot be taken back.
  • Only things a parent will approve of should be put online.
  • Review your child’s online friends and get anyone removed that does not come up to the standards you expect.
  • No sex talk with anyone online.
  • Posting of pictures of other kids without their knowledge is absolutely forbidden.
  • Dad will read all texts. Minors have no rights, so dad, possibly in face of strong objections, is allowed to do this.

A cardinal rule for all parents is to always pay attention to what your kids are doing online. Incorrect use of a digital device can be compared to a weapon of mass destruction!

Gadgets and gifts.

Every holiday season seems to get tougher as kids grow and they get more and more gadgets as gifts. Gadgets also get more expensive, and can range from a Pulse Tracker for the kid who likes to workout, to a special digital pencil for someone who is frustrated by unreliable stylus performances, and everything in between!

Of course most kids want the latest and the greatest when it comes to iPhones, smart phones, and tablets.

As a parent, life is not going to get easier, and that is why it is necessary to set rules and boundaries, and create conversations about the why’s and wherefores of device use as soon as possible.

How to keep your kids safe online.

Kids need to be kept safe online all year round, but in this holiday season, when everyone is rushing around doing last minute shopping and getting ready for visitors, they are especially vulnerable. Obviously parents who are extra busy cannot keep an eye on what kids are doing 24/7, but there are some steps you can take to ensure they are safe online when you are not around.

One way to be always aware of what is going on, is to purchase a new kind of gadget which has come onto the market. It is easily installed on a home network, and is able to monitor the activity of connected devices, and even control what can or cannot be done online. It should not be seen as a spy gimmick, but rather as a safety device for the protection of your child.

There is no software to be installed on the controlled devices, just a single app on your smartphone is necessary for you to action. While very effective, it should not preclude a frank discussion with your kids about internet safety, and how to treat others on line.

Some things you can discuss with your kids.

A frank and open discussion with your children about their digital lives is a must. Once you have established a connection and created a conversation about the responsibilities of owning a device, the kids will be more amenable to suggestions about how to be safe online.

Here are some useful tips for parents:

  • Encourage the kids to consider the content of what they want to post, as once clicked, it cannot be reversed.
  • Teach them how to turn on privacy settings and protect personal information.
  • Explain the benefits of treating others on line, as they would want to be treated.
  • Never to accept or condone any rude, unkind or belittling online behaviour.
  • Assure the children that no matter what happens online, and if they are exposed to something which makes them feel uncomfortable or concerned, you will always be there for them to discuss the problem.
  • When laying down the laws, try to be a role model for the kids when it comes to your own digital habits. They will take much more notice of what you say to them, when you are the kind of parent who walks the talk.
  • Encourage the kids to have some screen-free time during the day, and get involved in some other activities, especially something outdoors in the fresh air.
  • Make it a rule that all devices be switched of at bedtime, with no exceptions being allowed.

As a parent, if you have parental controls on devices, be sure to use them if necessary. If you have a child who finds it difficult to be separated from his or her phone, insist that the phone be charged at night in the parent’s room. Many kids have to be weaned off what is commonly known as a separation phobia.

Children can also be victims of identity theft.

Something which may not be obvious is that children can also be victims of identity theft. Most of the scammers get the info off social media sites for their criminal activities.

Kids need to be careful about what they post on social media. Millions of children post their pictures and what school they go to on social media sites without coming to any harm, but care should still be taken.

Kids should be aware that pictures of a newly-obtained driver’s licence for example, should not be posted on social media. Fraudsters are able to use the details and name on the licence to create false licences which will lead to all sorts of drama, so no matter how proud your child may be of being in possession of a driver’s licence, it does not belong on social media.

In like manner, warn your child that any information regarding social security or financial data, no matter who asks for it, must never be posted on any open forum such as social media.

Conclusion.

Digital gadgets have brought a lot of pleasure to a lot of people, but there has also been much harm done to a lot of people, especially vulnerable children.

Your child does not have to be victim of cyber bullying, or of being exposed to improper and unsavoury content.

As a parent, it is up to you to remain vigilant, and help keep your child safe online this holiday season.

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