Kids these days — they know so much more than we ever knew about technology growing up. After you’ve seen a toddler unlock a password-encoded iPad or smartphone like it’s no big deal, you may realize that we have a problem on our hands. Yes, technology is everywhere, but as parents, we can do our part by learning to monitor what our kids see, and who they interact with, online.
Jason P Stadlander, author of The Steel Van Man, has worked in information technology since 1995 and, in recent years, he has been offering workshops to concerned parents on computer and internet safety.
Stadlander routinely counsels parents through tricky cyber scenarios, such as helping your children avoid social media mistakes and protecting your kids from child predators online.
In an exclusive interview with SheKnows Australia, he shares his top five safety tips for parents who want to ensure their kids don’t run into trouble online:
Stadlander says it may sound like a no-brainer, but trying to make sure your kids feel comfortable confiding in you is key. “Maintain an open dialogue at all times so they will know to be on alert — even with people who seem to be their friends — and hopefully, they will let you know if something doesn’t feel right.”
Whether your kids are 6 or 16, it pays to be prudent. “Install monitoring or blocking software such as K9 or System Surveillance Pro, then learn how to use it and check it regularly,” Stadlander suggests. “This software is only as good as the parent who monitors it.”
When your children reach the age of wanting their own social media accounts, set some boundaries that include you having full access to their accounts. “Record passwords for all your children’s social networking accounts. If, heaven forbid, something should happen to your child, you will need to know where to investigate,” Stadlander adds.
“Talk to your child’s schools and after-school organisations and find out what their policies are for posting information online about children,” he says. “All schools should require parents’ permission in order to post photos or information and all parents should carefully consider the permission they are granting.”
Modern gadgets are fitted with “location services”, a handy device that broadcasts your exact location to the world. It’s a good idea to switch these off completely, even on your own phones, but at a minimum you should “disable location services on the camera of your child’s iPod, mobile phone or any other device that can take pictures,” Stadlander warms. “This prevents the GPS coordinates from being embedded in the photos.”
Updated by Bethany Ramos on 2/17/2016