Part One: Taking Responsibility for Protecting and Managing a child's Online Environment
If you are waiting for the technology companies or the government to come to your rescue with a solution that will protect your children all of the time across multiple devices with little or no effort on your part then you will disappointed and your children may suffer for your lack of action.
This is not a criticism of tech companies or the government because they mostly do what they can, however, it is a call to action for the parents that bury their heads in the sand. In addition, it is a prompt to overcome the inertia associated with parents thinking that they can’t possibly oversee the online environment of their tech savvy kids.
The bottom line is that parents must make the effort themselves to ensure that they minimise the risk of their children experiencing problems online, and also to ensure that they are in a position to intervene if the child is put at risk or is spending too much time on their devices. There is no getting away from the fact there will be a little pain at first, however, this will be far outweighed by the benefits in a very short period of time.
Protecting and managing a child’s online environment is mainly a three-step process. The first step is to ensure that the parent maintains ultimate control of every device that a child uses and that the necessary apps are taken to ensure that the parent always maintain effective control. The second step is education, both the parent and the child need to get educated about online security and screen time management. The third step is to continually monitor what the child is doing on their devices, so that the parent can intervene or adapt their strategy when necessary.
At this point you are probably thinking that this all sound good but how can I actually do it, where do I start and what tools do I need?
The answer to these questions are that you need to visit the involveall.com and start using the guides and videos that can be found in the free learning section. Yes, the guides are all free, so there is no excuse not to get started right away! At the very least, please take note of the following points:
- When your child obtains a new device, the parent must make them aware that they will always require access to the child’s device, and that they will need to provide the parent with any password upon request.
- The parent will need to setup apps that enable them to limit screen time and disable a device, as-and-when necessary, otherwise why would the child comply with the first point?
- Ensure that your child is always unable to access any parental devices or accounts. This is to reduce the potential for a child to disable the parental controls or to view undesirable content on unrestricted devices. I have made this mistake with my kids in the past, so I am hoping you will now not do the same.
- Should you want to block access to a social media service, such as Facebook then you may need to block both the app and the website address (URL).
- Educate yourself and most importantly your child in relation to the do’s and don’ts of using the Internet and why screen time management is important for their development.