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Category: Online Safety for Kids

Teaching Kids about Privacy Settings

Parents face immense challenges due to continual advancements in technology and easy access to the internet. Mobile applications, daily web surfing, online video games have become the norm within every family. The ever changing social media landscape may be one of the most challenging issues for parents.

What’s hot now can be replaced by a new social media platforms within a short couple of years. In terms of learning, the latest websites or apps can  help young kids in primary school and beyond learn more efficiently while making it exciting.

No matter what kids are doing online, it’s important to revisit education regarding privacy settings on a regular basis.  Here are some points for consideration as parents navigate this topic.

1. Basic Rules for Kids

It is vital to set up some internet rules for your children at home. In order to keep children safe while online, examine the applications and devices which are used by each child and set up privacy tabs and parenting controls.

It is a good idea to sit with your children and teach them how to use the internet for their advantage in order to learn something new. Set up some basic rules for your children according to your household. For example, never to give passwords to anyone.  Whatever you post should not be disturbing and uncomfortable for others to watch.  And remember to get permission before giving any identifying or private information.

2. Explaining the Importance of the Privacy

No child or teen wants to be spied on, so it’s critically important to promote positive communication and explain to them why privacy concerns are so pressing. Ravenous demand for more and more content on social media puts a person under pressure to share something as well. Take time out to communicate with your kids what should and should not be shared because the world outside is watching.

Secondly, remind them to be civilized as their audience or friends might not have privacy settings. Communication about digital privacy is not a one time conversational.  Things change rapidly online and settings must also be reviewed regularly.   Kids need to understand and remember the value of staying safe in the virtual world.

3. Showing Respect

Respect and empathy are some of the basic skills every person should learn in life. While we talk about privacy settings, privacy itself is a fundamental right of each and every individual. Teach your kids to respect the privacy of others around them. It might not be feasible if they share someone’s information without their consent or post a picture without asking them. Teach your children to be careful about using anyone’s electronic device outside your home as well.

4. Using Privacy Settings

It is imperative to learn how to use the privacy settings for yourself first. This can be a challenge if you don’t even use the applications that your kids are using.  If in doubt, just “Google it” for tips and resources about a particular website or app.

While discussing this topic with younger children and teens, read the terms and conditions of a particular social media platform or app.  Do it with them and allow them to set and change their privacy settings during the conversation.   Such as:  the sharing any data, turning off location tracking or the microphone, using a strong password which cannot be copied or easily cracked.

As much as possible, stay away from public Wi-Fi to keep your connections safe. Making sure that the social media profiles of Facebook, Instagram, etc. are private so no one can excess your information.

5. Hire A Tutor

The issue of privacy setting is quite sensitive and complex. There are times when you are not able to teach your children the value of privacy effectively. In that rare scenario, it’s better to encourage teachers in their schools to have an extra session about this topic. If that is not possible, then consider hiring a tutor who can teach kids how to use the internet safely, browsing with them to help them understand the importance of privacy settings inside their home and within in any social surroundings.

Keeping Up with a Digital World

It may seem impossible to keep up with every social media site or app that kids are using these days.  Trust between parent and child, tween or teen is the starting point to keeping lines of communication open.  Ask your kids what apps they are using. This is a good start.  Chances are they are not even on Facebook anymore.  There are so many new and exciting options online and ultimately, young kids and teens will go where their friends are going.  As mentioned, open communication to build trust and a healthy environment within your home will go a long way to aid us all in this ever evolving digital age.

Parents face immense challenges due to continual advancements in technology and easy access to the internet. Mobile applications, daily web surfing, online video games have become the norm within every family. The ever changing social media landscape may be one of the most challenging issues for parents.

What’s hot now can be replaced by a new social media platforms within a short couple of years. In terms of learning, the latest websites or apps can  help young kids in primary school and beyond learn more efficiently while making it exciting.

No matter what kids are doing online, it’s important to revisit education regarding privacy settings on a regular basis.  Here are some points for consideration as parents navigate this topic.

1. Basic Rules for Kids

It is vital to set up some internet rules for your children at home. In order to keep children safe while online, examine the applications and devices which are used by each child and set up privacy tabs and parenting controls.

It is a good idea to sit with your children and teach them how to use the internet for their advantage in order to learn something new. Set up some basic rules for your children according to your household. For example, never to give passwords to anyone.  Whatever you post should not be disturbing and uncomfortable for others to watch.  And remember to get permission before giving any identifying or private information.

2. Explaining the Importance of the Privacy

No child or teen wants to be spied on, so it’s critically important to promote positive communication and explain to them why privacy concerns are so pressing. Ravenous demand for more and more content on social media puts a person under pressure to share something as well. Take time out to communicate with your kids what should and should not be shared because the world outside is watching.

Secondly, remind them to be civilized as their audience or friends might not have privacy settings. Communication about digital privacy is not a one time conversational.  Things change rapidly online and settings must also be reviewed regularly.   Kids need to understand and remember the value of staying safe in the virtual world.

3. Showing Respect

Respect and empathy are some of the basic skills every person should learn in life. While we talk about privacy settings, privacy itself is a fundamental right of each and every individual. Teach your kids to respect the privacy of others around them. It might not be feasible if they share someone’s information without their consent or post a picture without asking them. Teach your children to be careful about using anyone’s electronic device outside your home as well.

4. Using Privacy Settings

It is imperative to learn how to use the privacy settings for yourself first. This can be a challenge if you don’t even use the applications that your kids are using.  If in doubt, just “Google it” for tips and resources about a particular website or app.

While discussing this topic with younger children and teens, read the terms and conditions of a particular social media platform or app.  Do it with them and allow them to set and change their privacy settings during the conversation.   Such as:  the sharing any data, turning off location tracking or the microphone, using a strong password which cannot be copied or easily cracked.

As much as possible, stay away from public Wi-Fi to keep your connections safe. Making sure that the social media profiles of Facebook, Instagram, etc. are private so no one can excess your information.

5. Hire A Tutor

The issue of privacy setting is quite sensitive and complex. There are times when you are not able to teach your children the value of privacy effectively. In that rare scenario, it’s better to encourage teachers in their schools to have an extra session about this topic. If that is not possible, then consider hiring a tutor who can teach kids how to use the internet safely, browsing with them to help them understand the importance of privacy settings inside their home and within in any social surroundings.

Keeping Up with a Digital World

It may seem impossible to keep up with every social media site or app that kids are using these days.  Trust between parent and child, tween or teen is the starting point to keeping lines of communication open.  Ask your kids what apps they are using. This is a good start.  Chances are they are not even on Facebook anymore.  There are so many new and exciting options online and ultimately, young kids and teens will go where their friends are going.  As mentioned, open communication to build trust and a healthy environment within your home will go a long way to aid us all in this ever evolving digital age.

4 Tips for Talking to Your Kids About Good Online Behavior

Parents Talking to Kids About Online Safety

Today, access to the internet is pervasive. And while the internet has many benefits, it also carries some risks. As parents, you need to talk to your kids about how to navigate the digital world safely and responsibly. Here’s how you can start the conversation and build a safe online environment for your family. 

1. Start early

Today, exposure to the internet begins at a young age. Yet 18% of teens say they haven’t talked with anybody about what good online behavior looks like. Don’t wait to start talking to your kids about proper internet behavior and setting appropriate boundaries.

For younger children, this might be as simple as setting time limits on screen use, disciplining yourself not to use technology as a pacifier to calm rowdy behavior, and encouraging offline play and interactions.

As your kids get older, budget more screen time paired with more responsibility and accountability. Eventually, you can also start introducing more mature topics of conversation, such as internet safety, cyberbullying, and privacy.

By opening the lines of communication early, you can set clear expectations from the start and help guide your kids along the way.     

2. Do your homework

Before you sit down with your child, brush up on the latest internet trends and social apps. If your kid uses social media, what channels are they active on?

Some of the most popular platforms for today’s teens and tweens include:

  • Instagram
  • Snapchat
  • Kik Messenger
  • Tumblr 
  • Tik Tok

Despite their popularity, these apps carry risks—particularly for budding teens and young adults who are still learning how to navigate the internet and digital relationships.

In order to give your child the best guidance, you need to understand what platforms they are using and how those apps work—including their privacy settings, age requirements, and the kind of information that is shared. Armed with that knowledge, you can set appropriate boundaries and educate your child on the risks and best practices for online safety. 

3. Explain the risks

Once you understand how your kids engage online, you can better address the specific risks involved.

Talk to your kids about these risks (as developmentally appropriate). By outlining the dangers and consequences of certain behaviors, you can help your children understand not only what they should do, but why.

As you discuss internet safety, consider teaching your children about the following:

  • Privacy issues: Oversharing personal information or details could put you at risk for identity theft or embarrassment. 
  • Harassment or bullying: Many apps and social platforms make it easy for kids and adults alike to participate in bullying behavior—whether that’s spreading gossip, sharing others’ private content (like sensitive photos), or writing hurtful comments. 
  • Reputation management: What happens on the internet doesn’t just go away. Things that happened online years ago could come up again later in life, such as during college applications or job interviews.  

Explain that because of these risks, you will be setting certain rules and guidelines for how the family uses the internet. 

4. Set expectations 

As with other areas of parenting, internet use in your household should have clear guidelines based on your family values and each kid’s maturity level. Setting limits isn’t always easy—especially if you are parenting a teenager—but it is important to be open and honest about what you expect of them and how they will be held accountable.

The exact limits you set will depend on your child’s age and maturity. Keep in mind that you will likely need to revisit your “house rules” with the family periodically as your children grow and they adopt new technology (e.g., upgrading to a smartphone).

In addition to time limits, consider outlining basic dos and don’ts of online behavior. These might include:

  • Never share passwords, addresses, or other private information over the internet.
  • Don’t illegally download content.
  • Don’t download unknown files from the internet (or ask an adult to check potential downloads).  
  • Avoid accepting friend requests or messages from strangers.
  • Never set up a meeting with someone you’ve only talked to online.
  • Be respectful; remember that online anonymity isn’t an excuse for bullying or other meanspirited behavior.
  • Don’t share friends’ information or content without permission. 
  • Always sign out of accounts when using public computers. 

Sit down with your children and explain your expectations and map these guidelines in a formal family media use plan.

Teaching your kids about internet safety and good online habits takes time and patience. It is not a one-off event but an ongoing conversation. As you stay involved in their lives—both online and offline—you will be able to guide them more effectively and help them develop into successful digital citizens.  

Today, access to the internet is pervasive. And while the internet has many benefits, it also carries some risks. As parents, you need to talk to your kids about how to navigate the digital world safely and responsibly. Here’s how you can start the conversation and build a safe online environment for your family. 

1. Start early

Today, exposure to the internet begins at a young age. Yet 18% of teens say they haven’t talked with anybody about what good online behavior looks like. Don’t wait to start talking to your kids about proper internet behavior and setting appropriate boundaries.

For younger children, this might be as simple as setting time limits on screen use, disciplining yourself not to use technology as a pacifier to calm rowdy behavior, and encouraging offline play and interactions.

As your kids get older, budget more screen time paired with more responsibility and accountability. Eventually, you can also start introducing more mature topics of conversation, such as internet safety, cyberbullying, and privacy.

By opening the lines of communication early, you can set clear expectations from the start and help guide your kids along the way.     

2. Do your homework

Before you sit down with your child, brush up on the latest internet trends and social apps. If your kid uses social media, what channels are they active on?

Some of the most popular platforms for today’s teens and tweens include:

  • Instagram
  • Snapchat
  • Kik Messenger
  • Tumblr 
  • Tik Tok

Despite their popularity, these apps carry risks—particularly for budding teens and young adults who are still learning how to navigate the internet and digital relationships.

In order to give your child the best guidance, you need to understand what platforms they are using and how those apps work—including their privacy settings, age requirements, and the kind of information that is shared. Armed with that knowledge, you can set appropriate boundaries and educate your child on the risks and best practices for online safety. 

3. Explain the risks

Once you understand how your kids engage online, you can better address the specific risks involved.

Talk to your kids about these risks (as developmentally appropriate). By outlining the dangers and consequences of certain behaviors, you can help your children understand not only what they should do, but why.

As you discuss internet safety, consider teaching your children about the following:

  • Privacy issues: Oversharing personal information or details could put you at risk for identity theft or embarrassment. 
  • Harassment or bullying: Many apps and social platforms make it easy for kids and adults alike to participate in bullying behavior—whether that’s spreading gossip, sharing others’ private content (like sensitive photos), or writing hurtful comments. 
  • Reputation management: What happens on the internet doesn’t just go away. Things that happened online years ago could come up again later in life, such as during college applications or job interviews.  

Explain that because of these risks, you will be setting certain rules and guidelines for how the family uses the internet. 

4. Set expectations 

As with other areas of parenting, internet use in your household should have clear guidelines based on your family values and each kid’s maturity level. Setting limits isn’t always easy—especially if you are parenting a teenager—but it is important to be open and honest about what you expect of them and how they will be held accountable.

The exact limits you set will depend on your child’s age and maturity. Keep in mind that you will likely need to revisit your “house rules” with the family periodically as your children grow and they adopt new technology (e.g., upgrading to a smartphone).

In addition to time limits, consider outlining basic dos and don’ts of online behavior. These might include:

  • Never share passwords, addresses, or other private information over the internet.
  • Don’t illegally download content.
  • Don’t download unknown files from the internet (or ask an adult to check potential downloads).  
  • Avoid accepting friend requests or messages from strangers.
  • Never set up a meeting with someone you’ve only talked to online.
  • Be respectful; remember that online anonymity isn’t an excuse for bullying or other meanspirited behavior.
  • Don’t share friends’ information or content without permission. 
  • Always sign out of accounts when using public computers. 

Sit down with your children and explain your expectations and map these guidelines in a formal family media use plan.

Teaching your kids about internet safety and good online habits takes time and patience. It is not a one-off event but an ongoing conversation. As you stay involved in their lives—both online and offline—you will be able to guide them more effectively and help them develop into successful digital citizens.  

How to Protect Minors in the Internet Age

Safe Kids Online

In the last few years the way we communicate with our loved ones has changed, also how we spend our leisure time. Social networks such as Facebook or Instagram and platforms like YouTube are the big influencers in this new world in which we live in.

Today, many of us spend so many hours in front of screens, whether the reason is watching kitten videos or chatting with our colleagues at work or in class.

These changes in our way of living have not only occurred in adults, but also in many children.  Kids are now spending hours in front of their smartphones or tablets.

However, this sudden change in our society has created a security breach that affects all of us, and minors are not excluded. That’s why parents and guardians must rethink how they are protected, adapting to an ever-evolving technological society.

Therefore, in this article we offer some advice on how to protect minors in the internet era:

  1. Set time limits they are allowed to use their devices.
  2. Check what your children are using their devices for and block unwanted and unsafe websites.
  3. Educate them to use technology in a responsible way and respecting other users on the internet. As it happens in real life, respect for others is key on the internet and for their education.
  4. Make them understand that they should not add or talk to strangers or people they don’t know in real life.
  5. Instruct them not to share any personal information with anyone online. Protecting your privacy is key to all of us, including minors. It is vital teach them that everything they share on the internet will be always there.
  6. Keep an eye on what they post or share on their social networks. Being aware of what they write or talk about on social media is essential to knowing more about them and avoiding future problems
  7. Use safe search websites that block unsuitable content. Safe boundaries allow kids to thrive as they explore the wealth of information on the internet without the usual dangers.
  8. Control the app installations in their devices. There are different app markets which contain huge amounts of apps from different categories. Avoid the download of inappropriate apps based on their content.
  9. Set a daily schedule in which they can use their devices and block their use during the night or in school. The use of devices in class can affect and reduce their school performance, so it’s advisable to block or limit use during school hours.
  10. Use the services of a good parental control program which offers all the features you may need for the protection of your kids.
  11. And last but the most important of all, let them know that they can always count on you for help and support when they might feel in danger.

The security and protection needs for our kids are always changing.  It’s difficult for parents to keep up with new trends in technology, but has never been more important for safety and development.

In the last few years the way we communicate with our loved ones has changed, also how we spend our leisure time. Social networks such as Facebook or Instagram and platforms like YouTube are the big influencers in this new world in which we live in.

Today, many of us spend so many hours in front of screens, whether the reason is watching kitten videos or chatting with our colleagues at work or in class.

These changes in our way of living have not only occurred in adults, but also in many children.  Kids are now spending hours in front of their smartphones or tablets.

However, this sudden change in our society has created a security breach that affects all of us, and minors are not excluded. That’s why parents and guardians must rethink how they are protected, adapting to an ever-evolving technological society.

Therefore, in this article we offer some advice on how to protect minors in the internet era:

  1. Set time limits they are allowed to use their devices.
  2. Check what your children are using their devices for and block unwanted and unsafe websites.
  3. Educate them to use technology in a responsible way and respecting other users on the internet. As it happens in real life, respect for others is key on the internet and for their education.
  4. Make them understand that they should not add or talk to strangers or people they don’t know in real life.
  5. Instruct them not to share any personal information with anyone online. Protecting your privacy is key to all of us, including minors. It is vital teach them that everything they share on the internet will be always there.
  6. Keep an eye on what they post or share on their social networks. Being aware of what they write or talk about on social media is essential to knowing more about them and avoiding future problems
  7. Use safe search websites that block unsuitable content. Safe boundaries allow kids to thrive as they explore the wealth of information on the internet without the usual dangers.
  8. Control the app installations in their devices. There are different app markets which contain huge amounts of apps from different categories. Avoid the download of inappropriate apps based on their content.
  9. Set a daily schedule in which they can use their devices and block their use during the night or in school. The use of devices in class can affect and reduce their school performance, so it’s advisable to block or limit use during school hours.
  10. Use the services of a good parental control program which offers all the features you may need for the protection of your kids.
  11. And last but the most important of all, let them know that they can always count on you for help and support when they might feel in danger.

The security and protection needs for our kids are always changing.  It’s difficult for parents to keep up with new trends in technology, but has never been more important for safety and development.

How to Keep a Closer Eye on Your Kids’ Gaming Activity

Tracking Kids Gaming Activity Online

Contrary to what parents might have thought 30 years ago, video games do not rot the brain — in fact, there are numerous studies showing a link between critical thinking, as well as hand-eye coordination, and video games.

But even with these benefits, the last thing you want is for your child to spend all their time cooped up indoors playing Fortnite. Who knows what they might be purchasing, or worse, who they might be talking to.

Here are ways you can keep a closer eye on your kids’ gaming activity.

Consider a keylogger to monitor their conversations.

It can be hard to know what your kids are talking about and who they are talking to, but a keystroke logger will tell you every single button press your kids make. Just keep in mind that using this for gaming can be confusing, as it will make a log of every keystroke—including your kids using W, S, A, and D to move within the game. You’ll have to navigate through the logs to find when your kids have a conversation with another player in-game.

Use a program like RescueTime or other built-in tools to track how your kids spend time on the computer.

If you aren’t sure how much time your kids spend on the computer—or you suspect they play games when they’re not supposed to—you can use a program that monitors their activity and reports back to you. Some of these programs will allow you to lock certain activities if they extend beyond a certain time period.

If your kids play on console more than computer, never fear. The PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch all have optional parental controls that can be used to limit the amount of time someone spends playing video games on a day-to-day basis. Just make sure your kids don’t learn how to bypass those controls.

Use parental controls to block purchases and transactions.

With so many micro transactions available in games today, it can be hard to stop kids from spending money both deliberately and accidentally. After all, it only takes a few clicks to buy the “Battlepass” on Fortnite, at a cost of $9.99. The same parental controls you use to restrict playtime can also be used to restrict purchases.

If you enable these settings, your kids will not be able to spend any money in the game. No need to worry about becoming one of the parents on the evening news whose kid spends $800 on new skins.

Video games are a fun pastime, and they may even help boost some fine-motor skills. They also allow your kids to socialize with friends without leaving the house. But like everything else, they should be played in moderation. Use these tools to keep an eye on what your kids are up to. You can keep them safe (and protect your wallet) without intruding on them in any noticeable way. They’ll appreciate the illusion of independence while they play games with their friends, and you can rest easy knowing they’re safe on the internet.

Patrick is an Atlanta-based tech writer for Xfinity. When he’s not writing, he can be found spending his time with the latest videogame or chasing down the most recent challenges in Fortnite.

Contrary to what parents might have thought 30 years ago, video games do not rot the brain — in fact, there are numerous studies showing a link between critical thinking, as well as hand-eye coordination, and video games.

But even with these benefits, the last thing you want is for your child to spend all their time cooped up indoors playing Fortnite. Who knows what they might be purchasing, or worse, who they might be talking to.

Here are ways you can keep a closer eye on your kids’ gaming activity.

Consider a keylogger to monitor their conversations.

It can be hard to know what your kids are talking about and who they are talking to, but a keystroke logger will tell you every single button press your kids make. Just keep in mind that using this for gaming can be confusing, as it will make a log of every keystroke—including your kids using W, S, A, and D to move within the game. You’ll have to navigate through the logs to find when your kids have a conversation with another player in-game.

Use a program like RescueTime or other built-in tools to track how your kids spend time on the computer.

If you aren’t sure how much time your kids spend on the computer—or you suspect they play games when they’re not supposed to—you can use a program that monitors their activity and reports back to you. Some of these programs will allow you to lock certain activities if they extend beyond a certain time period.

If your kids play on console more than computer, never fear. The PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch all have optional parental controls that can be used to limit the amount of time someone spends playing video games on a day-to-day basis. Just make sure your kids don’t learn how to bypass those controls.

Use parental controls to block purchases and transactions.

With so many micro transactions available in games today, it can be hard to stop kids from spending money both deliberately and accidentally. After all, it only takes a few clicks to buy the “Battlepass” on Fortnite, at a cost of $9.99. The same parental controls you use to restrict playtime can also be used to restrict purchases.

If you enable these settings, your kids will not be able to spend any money in the game. No need to worry about becoming one of the parents on the evening news whose kid spends $800 on new skins.

Video games are a fun pastime, and they may even help boost some fine-motor skills. They also allow your kids to socialize with friends without leaving the house. But like everything else, they should be played in moderation. Use these tools to keep an eye on what your kids are up to. You can keep them safe (and protect your wallet) without intruding on them in any noticeable way. They’ll appreciate the illusion of independence while they play games with their friends, and you can rest easy knowing they’re safe on the internet.

Patrick is an Atlanta-based tech writer for Xfinity. When he’s not writing, he can be found spending his time with the latest videogame or chasing down the most recent challenges in Fortnite.