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Online safety for the holiday season: three tips for parents

12/04/2019

As we enter the gift-giving time of the holiday season, technology will likely be at the top of most children’s wish-lists. According to a recent survey by Common Sense Media, smartphone use among tweens and teens is continuing to rise. The survey notes 20% of children have a phone by age 8. That number rises to 53% by the time they reach age 11 and 84% by the time they are teenagers. The report also notes 42% of young children now have their own personal tablet.

If your child is one of the few who doesn’t own a tablet or smartphone, they are likely hoping that changes this holiday season, and new technology can be a great gift for your child. After all, devices are fun for children to use, are great tools to promote education, and can help young people connect with the world. If you’re considering giving the gift of technology, however, it’s important to also teach your child how to use that technology responsibly and to set some ground rules when it comes to internet access. It’s also important to have this plan in place before the child gets that new device out of the box.

Three tips from Impero this holiday season

Here are three tips to help your child enjoy their new technology responsibly – and to help you have peace of mind this holiday season.

  • Set parental controls on devices BEFORE you wrap them. Spend some time with the device to familiarize yourself with it before giving it to your child. Most devices have features that allow you to control what your child can and can’t access. Options may include:
    • Setting screen time limits
    • Blocking or restricting access to apps that cost money
    • Setting parameters on the type of content children can access. For example, many tablets have built-in features that allow you to block access to mature content.

Research parental control features on the devices and take advantage of them. Then make sure to set them up in advance so your child will be able to start using their device safely right out of the box.

  • Set rules for your child. It can be helpful to put these rules in writing, or even make up a contract for your child to sign. Almost all children sign an acceptable use contract at school and having one at home can help emphasis acceptable use at school and at home. However you approach it, make sure your child understands that having access to technology is a privilege and comes with certain ground rules. These can include:
    • Limiting the amount of daily screen time on the new device
    • Controlling passwords. The parent should have access to all passwords at all times and the ability to check out what the child is doing with that device at any time.
    • Putting restrictions on when and where the device can be used. For example, set rules forbidding use of the devices at night or during the dinner hour.

It is also helpful to lay out the consequences if the rules are not followed. Setting clear expectations can help encourage responsible use of the device and can avoid arguments down the road.

  • Teach digital citizenship. If you are teaching your child how to prepare a special holiday meal, you would talk about safety rules, right. For example, use potholders to avoid burns, sanitize cooking surfaces to avoid contamination, and make sure food is cooked thoroughly to avoid illness. This same “safety first” approach applies to technology and internet access too. If you give your child a device that connects them to the online world, they need to understand potential dangers in that world and how to be a good citizen in that online community. For example, tell your children:
    • Don’t believe everything you see/hear/read. The online world can be full of deception. People aren’t necessarily who they say they are. “News” articles aren’t always accurate. Teach your child how to critically evaluate the information found online and point out legitimate sources where they can fact-check information.
    • Be mindful of what you post. If a child is on social media, posting in online forums or commenting on web sites, it is important to teach him or her about their digital footprint – and how once something is posted online, it never truly goes away. Share cautionary tales with your child about people who have lost scholarships or jobs or worse, due to what they posted online. It can also be helpful to show your child positive examples of how young people have used the internet for good.
    • Safeguard your profile. Anything posted online has the potential to become public. Make sure your child knows how to manage their privacy settings to make sure only selected individuals can see their posts and images. Discuss with your child how to report offensive comments and how to block people who upset them or share content that makes them uncomfortable.

How Impero can help 

Impero can help parents keep their children safe this holiday season with its mobile device management solution, Impero EdLink. Impero EdLink helps parents monitor and control their child’s use of their device and their online activity. Parents can use Impero EdLink to set screen time limits and to track and monitor their child’s browsing history, location and content accessed. Parents can also block or control access to specific apps and online content. Impero EdLink provides parents with another tool to help their child get the most out of their smartphone, tablet or other device while keeping them safe online. Learn more about using Impero EdLink at home here. Or click here to request a demo.

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