Disclosure: As part of the Better Moments Blogger Brigade Program, I did receive compensation for this post. The opinions expressed here are mine and nobody else's. I have been a U.S. Cellular Customer for 15+ years.
OK~ If you have been around here any length of time, you know that I am passionate about internet safety and families. When you get your kids their first cell phone, the first thing parents need to do, is to go over the Parent Child Agreement. This is where the conversation begins, when it comes to talking about the apps and temptations that are available online for our kids.
Kids of all ages are living their lives online. They use the world wide web to help them complete school work and to stay up to date with the latest trends in their lives. From fashion, music and social media, our teens live very busy lives. The internet can be a fun space, but it can also be a very challenging space. Kids are downloading music, reading books and magazines, watching movies while using Snapchat and Instagram. When used appropriately, all of these things are a great tool. Kindness does matter.
According to a recent U.S. Cellular Survey, kids are receiving their first cell phone at the age of 13. Keep in mind, this is an average age. Your 13 year old, may or may not be mature enough to handle this connection to the internet. One statistic that I find alarming is that 24 percent of kids noted that they go online "almost constantly." We have got to get better at showing our kids how to use their time wisely, while online. Here are some tips to help you and your family navigate the world wide web.
HAVE AN AGREEMENT WITH YOUR CHILDREN
U.S. Cellular has created a Parent-Child Agreement to help guide families' conversations about mobile phone usage. The agreement focuses on safety and etiquette, and it's customizable based on each family's specific needs.
DISCUSS ONLINE COMMUNICATIONS
If you don't think those conversations at the supper table matter, well, they do! Beyond texting, increases in the use of social platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat have opened up new communications pathways for teens. U.S. Cellular recommends that families discuss the importance of never posting harmful or hurtful comments on others pages and always being responsible for what is said online.
SET BOUNDARIES FOR ONLINE SHARING
Make sure your child knows to never share personal information online. That includes their name, age, address, school and sports teams, as well as any passwords. Also remind them to communicate only with family or friends and not to answer unsolicited requests or texts.
POST PHOTOS APPROPRIATELY
We all know how eager kids, and adults, are to capture and share photos; but many today do not realize that once those images are online, they are in the public domain and can even be modified by others. Talk about guidelines for sharing photos with friends and alert them to never post photos which could contain information about where they live or be seen as inappropriate. It is also best to not post or share photos or videos of others without their consent. I often wonder how many photos of others I am in, while in public spaces today.
USE PARENTAL CONTROLS
The NQ Family Guardian App is available for $4.99 a month of Android devices and provides safety and security by monitoring your child's locating and mobile usage. This service allows parents to review their children's calls and texts, and restrict certain websites and apps. Children can even send their parents an alert with the simple press of a button if they find themselves in trouble or find themselves in an uncomfortable situation. For iOS users, there is a wide range of parental-control options tat are automatically available in iOS 9's Settings app.
Most importantly, talk with your kids. The internet is a very large space. The conversations parents have with their kids online and offline, do matter. After All, It's All In a Mom's Day, Right?