In the Parenting Safe Children workshop, I talk about the importance of teaching your children body-safety rules and the equal importance of screening caregivers. Here are some examples of applying screening principles around online safety:
- Screen the sites your children spend time on – and set limits.
- Screen friend lists periodically, just as you would inquire about who your child is spending time with in the outside world.
- Review personal information to make sure that your child’s profile and photos on social networking sites are appropriate. (Some parents require that their child friend a parent as a condition of social media use, so the parent can watch for safe use.)
Then it gets a little trickier, with a host of personal privacy decisions. Do you check your child’s text messages? Do you install parental control software to filter sites or obtain usage reports? These decisions are personal and will vary by family, but please remember two things:
- Whatever choice you make about filtering programs, no software can take the place of an actively involved parent; and
- If you are concerned or worried that your child ‘s safety is being comprised, then it is no longer a matter of privacy, but rather one of safety. If your child won’t talk with you, do what you need to do to protect your child, even if it means, for instance, checking his or her text messages.
If and how are you monitoring your child’s online activities?