You just cannot expect your preteens or teens to tell you about everything they see, face or read online. They have a strong need for privacy, they are most uncomfortable talking about inappropriate content with parents and they are loath to admit that they are not exactly the model children their parents believe them to be. And they would die rather than confess to their parents that they were at the receiving end of ridicule or bullying. It would be so embarrassing for them, for then their last shred of esteem would be lost!
Kids in their vulnerable, moody teens instead find it easier to talk to their friends who they believe would understand and empathize with them and give them the right advice. That’s why they are so addicted to social networking, where even the shyest child can speak freely. Unfortunately, parents often fail to comprehend this and hence arises a digital gap between the parents and child. Further, parents also fail to understand the magnetism that the latest gadgets, apps, networks and games that they so keenly fee.
So actually we operate at different levels, ours was a world where physical activities and face-to-face interactions were encouraged while our kids prefer their digital world and online communications.
If you are a parent of a preteen, then chances are you have already started worrying about how you would handle your kids in their teens. How you would monitor them, their friendships and activities, given the new menace in town- the Internet? Already they seem to know much more than you do.
The trick is to start them young and maintain an upper hand.
You need to set rules for their forays into the virtual world. Tell them what’s right and what isn’t right; what’s allowed and what isn’t. I would tell my kids that they could play on my computer but not turn on the modem (those were the days of wired connections) when we were not around. If they did, then no video games for a week. They listened.
You also need to make them aware of the dangers that lurk in the cyber world. Talk to them about cyber bullies, stalkers, crooks and kidnappers. Tell them about account hacking, bank frauds and malicious apps on phones. Warn them about paedophiles- how easy it is to assume false personalities online and why they should not befriend people they do not know in real life. Chances are, they already know about these threats and have some stories to share. It’s great to share stories and come to an agreement about safe surfing. It will also send the message to your kids that you are aware of what’s happening and might make it easy for them to speak to you.
Another thing to do is to install comprehensive security software on all devices, including all the smartphones! The next step is to set controls and adjust privacy settings on them. Remember to turn off Bluetooth, Geotagging and WiFi on your phone.
As a continuous process, you need to constantly communicate with your kids about the threats related to the Internet in general.
I like saying “When Mom is not around, McAfee monitors the kids online”. Keep parental controls turned on if you have to leave kids alone with the PC or smartphone. You will be thankful for it will help you keep track of your kid’s cyber activities remotely. To know more click here.