The methods of parenting have changed a lot over the years. As new technologies are developed and embraced by each successive generation, the quirks, problems, and yes, even dangers reveal themselves slowly. In fact, some new technologies (or novel uses for old technology) don’t even come to the attention of parents until something bad has happened — and usually taken the national news by storm in the process.
A good example of this might be the trend of Instagram “beauty pageants,” where young girls post photos of themselves for the online world at-large to “rate.” Once this practice came to light, it was immediately cited as an unhealthy source of cyber-bullying and a danger to the self-esteem of a demographic already balancing precariously on a social knife-edge. But how long did it go on before parents were made aware of it?
Time was, the dangers that worried parents most were visible, tangible things — crossing traffic, saying no to drugs, “stranger danger,” and the like. But these days, parents must contend with an entirely new arena when it comes to child safety — the virtual world. Cyber-bullying, online predators, gratuitous sex and violence… these are the modern dangers facing children on the Internet, and you as a parent need to familiarize yourself with the available tools to help protect your kids online.
In regards to the “beauty pageants,” parents can enlist Instagram monitoring tools, as well as a a host of other social media monitoring tools, to keep track of what underage kids are posting — and where. Internet content filtering software can also help block unwanted material from your machine, making it inaccessible to curious little minds.
And in addition to these tips for Internet safety, a broad range of solutions exist to address the mobile device world too. Email and iPhone text monitoring software can help rein in the small yet powerful devices our children carry with them, protecting them from prying eyes and from their own explorations. Not only can software be device-wide, but as with the Instagram tools, the protection can also be app-specific, either before the fact (prevention and fire-walling), or after the fact (monitoring and reviewing their activity).
Don’t forget that, even with all these new threats to the safety of your kids, the old ones are still there — crossing with the green, “just say no,” etc. But also keep in mind that some of the old ways can still be the best. One of the best tips for Internet safety is a tried-and-true classic: Share the experience. Going online with your kids is a great way to not only make sure they know the safe places to go, but also learn from you the best way to navigate the World Wide Web. Not to mention the bonding experience we as parents so desperately need these days.
Do you have some favorite tips for Internet safety to share? Please feel free to leave them in the comments section below.