Technology + Kids: 12 Must Do’s To Keep Your Children Safe on Technology

IMG_4333Technology has become ubiquitous in our lives. We use it for work, to communicate, to connect with others, and to be entertained. The units are getting smaller, more portable and more accessible. My son’s iPad finds its way into his hands as often as possible. One minute we are having a conversation, the next that darn iPad or iTouch is the most engaging thing in his life. It happens in a second. So what are parents to do?

The first thing to remember is that the use of technology is not a right, rather it is a privilege. I highly suggest making that a mantra. Say it to yourself often. Know that those tech units are there to be used by us, not to control us – especially not our kids! There are too many pitfalls!

12 Must Do’s To Keep Your Children Safe on Technology

1. Give them access to social media judiciously. Only let your children get social media accounts that are age appropriate. Don’t just let them create accounts because their friends are. Ask yourself: “Are my kids ready for this type of engagement with others and technology?”

2. Become technology literate yourself. You need to know about social media sites, gaming sites, etc… so that you can support your child’s healthy use. The top ones for kids: texting, email, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Kik, YouTube, Vine, Pinterest, + Twitter. There are more. They keep changing too. If your kids have accounts on these social media channels you should too!

3. Educate your kids about appropriate internet/social media engagement. Create a contract or have a detailed discussion about what is appropriate behavior online. They need to understand that what they say on social media/internet is public and visible. You bet employers and colleges are getting on social media to see what perspective students/employees are, or have been, doing online.

4. Keep the computer in a common area. This is especially true for younger children, but if possible try to keep all technology use in a common area where you can keep an eye on their use.

5. Educate your children about internet/social media issues. The big ones are cyber-bullying, sexting, identity theft, and even pornography. If your children are online they are likely exposed to some of these issues – or they will be soon. These are so important to discuss before they experience them. Remind them it is essential they talk with you if they see/experience any of these internet/social media issues.

6. Have ALL login info for ALL your children’s accounts. I cannot say this strongly enough. They must give you all login information and let you know when something changes.  Internet/social media accounts are not a given, rather they are a privilege.

7. Monitor your children’s internet/social media use/accounts on a regular basis. Don’t just have an account on all social media channels that your kids are on. Monitor it very regularly. “Friend” and “Like” and “Comment” and “Engage” with your children and your children’s friends. And ask other parents to do the same. It takes a village! 

8. Bookmark your child’s favorite sites. For younger kids and older ones, work together with them to find their top sites and bookmark them. It seems simple, but then they are not constantly entering the names and possibly going to an unintended site.

9. Spend time together online. Just spend some time together online. You will get a sense of how they engage online and it’s just great to do something together. If you don’t know about social media sites ask them to give you a tour and show you how they are used. Let them be your teacher – very empowering!

10. Be aware and stay involved. Notice if your child’s mood is changing when they get online. If they removing themselves from the family to get online or feeling an urgency to get online as soon as they have access. This is where being engaged yourself is priceless!

11. Have a common area where you power technology – not your children’s bedrooms! This seems simple, but your kids need a break from technology. Identify a time they turn in their technology units and have power cords in a common area.

12. Make a technology contract. This can be a document you put together and then discuss with your whole family. How much time is it okay to spend online? What are the behavior expectations? How to handle login info. And so much more. About a year ago a mom created a contract for the iPhone she gave her son and it went viral. The iPhone Contract – This offers a great framework for creating your own a contract!

#boulder #technology #socialmedia #kids #safety

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Do You Instagram? This Social Media Tool Is Not Just For The Kids!

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Instagram is a really cool social media tool that allows you to take photos, use great filters to make them look amazing, and then share them on a photo stream with your friends. You choose who shares your photo stream so you can keep your circle as small an you want. Instagram quickly becomes a photo journal of your life.

I love Instagram for families! Let me tell you why…

  1. Take Fun Photos! You can take really fun photos and easily manipulate them with filters. It can be addictive!
  2. Share Your Photos: You can share photos with select friends/family/others–you choose!
  3. Photos Are Available Immediately: The photos you share show up on your photo stream immediately so people can share your experiences and see what you are up to. Even grandparents can keep up to date on what’s happening in your family’s life via your photo journalism.
  4. Photos Are Archived: you can always look back for photos you took.
  5. Print Your Instagram Photos: You can now create great photo prints with your Instagram images.
  6. Keep Tabs On Your Kids: You can follow your kids and even their friends–essential for the teen crowd! If you have a teen you know what I mean.
  7. Share Via Email or Other Social Media Sites: After you snap an Instagram photo you can share those photos via email or many other social media sites. It makes it easy to integrate these images into your life.
  8. And Now Video: Instagram just added up to 15 second video capability with some of the same great filters to make your videos look great!

Instagram Example 1: This weekend we went camping with some friends. The kids and I snapped Instagram photos and uploaded them immediately. It was fun to share the journey with our friends and family! I use the photos to document our adventures.

Instagram Example 2: My husband travels a lot for work. I snap Instagram photos and he can follow what we are up to in almost real time. He can “like” or “comment” on all the photos so he can interact with me and they kids too.

Instagram Example 3: The other day I set my mom up with an Instagram account [took under 5 minutes]. She can now follow her grandkids and our whole family. She does this on her iPhone, but she could do it on another mobile device [iPad, iPad Mini, etc…]. She loves it!

Want to get started on Instagram? Here is how.