As parents, keeping up with what your kids are doing, saying and posting online can be tough. Social media trends and websites are rapidly evolving, and many parents simply don’t have the time or know-how to constantly check up on kids’ Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter accounts.
That’s where TrueCare steps in: an Internet-based tool that can help protect your kids online 24/7, while saving you time and providing real insight into who your kids are communicating with and what they are saying online.
With TrueCare’s easy-to-use, collaborative monitoring tool, you can:
- Be alerted when an adult “friends” or “follows” your children, or if they become friends with someone who has no other friends in common.
- Receive a weekly report of your kids’ online activity with a recap of alerts from TrueCare, number of photos posted, number of new friends added, and any adults added as friends outside the “network.”
- See the full context of potentially dangerous posts so that you, as the parent, can decide whether or not you need to take additional action to protect your child.
Create an Ongoing Dialog with Your Kids
Open communication is crucial to protecting your children from potential Internet dangers like cyber bullying and online sexual predators. Talk to your kids often about what they are posting on Instagram and Facebook, new online “friends” and “followers,” and the consequences of inappropriate behavior on the Web.
Just as safety belt use has become common practice in protecting kids on the road, TrueCare helps parents adapt to the new digital world by protecting kids online.
Basic Tips for Parents for preserving sanity and peace-of-mind when it comes to worrying about your sons and daughters on the Internet.
1. Discussion. Discussion. Discussion.
Parents must have a good sense about what’s going on in their kids’ online worlds. Since using Instagram, Facebook and other social media sites has become a daily routine for kids, it needs to be part of the daily conversation. The more open you are with your kids and facilitate a safe and non-judgmental environment for conversation, the more likely they are to tell you if they come across an issue. While the idea of openness and parenting sometimes seem like they shouldn’t go together, imagine this: do you want to talk about things at the dining room table in a calm atmosphere or after something forces the issue?
2. Keep The Computer in a Common Area
Laptops, smart phones, and tablets have allowed us to overlook the cardinal rule of kids on the Internet – keep the communication vehicles in a common area where parents can monitor websites and time allocated to Internet activity. Making them mobile makes it even more difficult to monitor and manage. We all grew up without access to the Internet on our phones and still managed to survive. Your kids can too.
3. Manners for Texting, E-Mailing or Chatting Online
As you have in every aspect of your child’s life, you set the expectations for manners and appropriate behavior. Coach them to behave as you have taught them in real life. Typed content is the same as verbal communication. Digital manners need to be reinforced just as regular manners do.
4. Understand the Settings of Social Media Sites
While settings can sometimes be difficult to find and hard to navigate, understanding the settings can save you time and heartache down the road. They control what information people can and can’t see and what information is sent out upon posting. Be certain that any settings are set to your preferences. Also remember that Facebook prohibits children under 13 from even having a Facebook account.
5. Posting Pictures – Interpretation is in the Mind of the Beholder
A picture posted online is not private. A photo sent between cell phones is not private. Make sure that your children are aware that mistakes do happen and so-called private messages go public, or that sometimes people you trust make mistakes in judgment. Once a photo hits a social media site, it can be downloaded and reposted across the entire web within hours. Explain that on the Internet, nothing is really ever gone, and the consequences of an immature decision will be viewable for years to come.
6. Kids and Adults Should Not Be Friends
Don’t allow your kids to “friend” adults on social media sites. When your child connects with an adult, even if it’s a trusted friend or relative, they are exposed to the adult content and images posted on that adult’s site.
7. Teach children what to do if they are bullied via IM, e-mail, or chat room post
The latest statistics indicate that 42% of children have been the victim of an online bully. Of that number, 58% never discussed the situation with their parents. The more conversations you have with your kids about what occurs online, the more likely they will be to talk to you about what’s going on. Take every opportunity to teach them how to manage themselves in confusing situations.
8. If Your Child Has a Social Media Account, They Are At Risk.
No one can hide on the Internet. A social media account allows for some of a child’s personal information to be viewable in a search engine. Be certain that content is managed appropriately. Performing a Google search every once in a while may be a good idea to make sure that you’re aware of your kids’ online presence.
Monitoring your children doesn’t mean that you don’t trust them, it means that you care about them. The world we live in has dangers that we didn’t face growing up and it’s our job as parents to be aware of these dangers and to do all that we can to protect our children.