Keeping children safe in today’s digital world
Today’s technology allows us to communicate with anyone, anywhere, anytime through social media apps, message boards and even chat online through video games with little protection for the minors that use them. Being an educated parent or guardian and communicating with your children can bring you one step closer to securing their safety. You can begin by discussing which types of information should not be shared online and by being aware of popular apps and their potential dangers.
Guidelines for safely communication online
- Avoid using suggestive screen names or photos.
- Be cautious of online flatters.
- Don’t get personal with strangers.
- Know that people are not always who they say they are.
- Do not meet with someone you met online.
- If you have a problem, tell someone.
- Set all privacy settings where possible.
In addition to following the safety guidelines, look for reputable information sources and parental control apps to simplify monitoring your children's location or online actions. Your local library can assist you with locating this information.
Resources that help keep children safe
Use online resources to aid discussions with your children. Educational sites like NetSmartz provides safety tip sheets for cyberbullying, game safety, social media, sexting and tips for teens and tweens.
Common Sense Media Research is a useful site that provides information about children’s use of media. According to a recent article on their blog, the most popular texting apps for teens and tweens today are GroupMe, Kik Messenger, WhatsApp and Discord. More new apps are coming every day.
This app infographic published by the Sarasota Sheriff’s Office is a concise visual guide to help you stay on top of the most recent troublesome apps available.
Sarasota County Sheriff's Office
While apps usage can be abused, they can also be an essential tool in a parental control toolkit and should not be overlooked.
Monitoring apps for child safety
There are many parental control apps available to counteract online threats. For example, Bark is a highly rated app that monitors social media, text messages and photos for signs of cyberbullying and other harmful messages. Bark alerts the parent or guardian when action needs to be taken. Apps can also track location and help you monitor your home through the use of video technology.
Research these top applications for parental control:
- *Bark - Tracks social media use
- *Qustadio - Tracks online activities, text messages, gaming and apps
- *Net Nanny - For younger kids
The idea is not to cause fear, but to use technology safely and sensibility. You can achieve this by having opening dialog with teens and keeping abreast of the latest technology in use today.
Refer to the websites listed below for more information regarding app safety.
Helpful internet safety websites:
*This information is provided for your use. We do not endorse any of the listed apps or websites.
Elgersma, C. (2019, July 10). 18 Social Media Apps and Sites Kids Are Using Right Now. Retrieved November 6, 2019, from https://www.commonsensemedia.org/blog/16-apps-and-websites-kids-are-heading-to-after-facebook
Grubb, C. (2019, November 4). Best Parental Control Apps based on in-depth reviews. Retrieved November 6, 2019, from https://www.consumersadvocate.org/parental-control-apps
Resources. (n.d.). Retrieved November 5, 2019, from https://www.missingkids.org/netsmartz/resources
Staff, 10News. (2019, August 6). Access Denied. Retrieved November 6, 2019, from https://www.wwltv.com/article/tech/15-apps-parents-should-know-about/67-ed6826b3-a80e-45a9-ac92-f04cc6bb5760