Protecting young generations in a digital age

Kids aren’t concerned about online privacy, but they should be.

Parents will worry, kids will play

Ever since the dawn of civilization, parents have been worrying about their kids’ well-being, whereabouts and behavior, virtually 24x7. The children of today are becoming more independent earlier in life. They’re frequently going out to socialize with peers starting in their early teens, ultimately leaving the nest to work or obtain higher education – on average – a few years earlier than their counterparts from previous generations. Modern parents often struggle to keep up with their offspring’s busy lives and numerous activities, though, they have an advantage over the cohorts that preceded them. Technology is on their side, if used wisely and sparingly – apps like the Phone Sheriff allow you to set usage limits on your teen’s device.

Digital toddlers

Today children also start using and owning phones when they’re quite young. Often, those aren’t any old Nokia hand-me-down’s but the latest model smartphones. When they’re little, the tablet or smartphone can provide certain relief to busy parents who simply aren’t able to keep an eye out on their kids all the time. Often, it’s easier to let them play a game, watch a video or a movie and keep themselves entertained, while mom and dad prepare dinner, clean the house, or answer work emails. Not surprisingly, tablets have, at times, been dubbed ‘the babysitter,’ as they conveniently play this role for many busy parents.

New world, new rules

Ironically, once kids start growing up they don’t let go of their devices, which they have gotten so accustomed to from a young age. Instead, their usage often intensifies, and the cell becomes their lifeline to their friends, schools, and their favorite YouTube stars. By then, parents are no longer that excited about the prospect of having their offspring spend hours staring at their screens, but it’s too late. Kids would hardly ever let go of them and the only way to pry them off their hands is by imposing a punishment for some infraction, or other. The latter usually doesn’t go very well and doesn’t last as long as the parental body might have liked. Parents, can, however, use technology to their advantage, by following some of the tips we discuss below.

Apps for keeping tabs

The internet isn’t what it used to be in its early days, and post-millennial generations have a different relationship with it than those before them. They’re not that concerned about personal security or privacy online. They easily meet people on the web, exchange contact information, photo and video media, share their locations, and broadcast personal details about their lives. They often fail to consider the negative consequences that being so ‘’open’’ about one’s life can bring on if you’re not being prudent. Educating kids and teenagers about the dangers of online oversharing is an integral part of parenting in a digital age. To help with that apps like Mobicip or ESET let you control the content, app and actions they can access on their phones.

Here are some tips for wary parents, which can help keep children safe online and offline:

  • Be present and aware of your kids’ digital activities, including their social media personas, the apps they use and the contacts they communicate with online. 
  • Explain to kids why they shouldn’t share selfies, personal or contact information with those they’ve only met online. Individuals on the internet aren’t always who they say they are; building a misleading persona online is practically effortless. 
  • Help them distinguish between safe questions and potentially unsafe questions, and what sort of information should be shared with whom.
  • Teach kids how to switch off location sharing for different apps to minimize the risk of being tracked. 
  • Show them how to make social media profiles private and how to un-share publicly available information about themselves online. 
  • Teach them what kind of content is acceptable to share on the web, even with their closest friends. Explain how difficult it is to control the dissemination of images and videos once they have been passed on to others or broadcasted. 
  • Educate them about the risk of cyberbullying, why it happens and how to respond if they find themselves in a similar situation. 

Of course, new tech (mobile applications, computer software) also allows vigilant parents to closely monitor all kids’ activity, be it on social media or messaging apps.

007 agents parents

Finally, parents often worry about their children’s whereabouts and physical security as they’re not always forthcoming about where they are at any given moment. Wondering whether your son or daughter really is at that school dance or sleepover at a friend’s house? Smartphone apps like mSpy, Spyzie and Family Locator GPS Tracker track and share the location of your loved ones with you so you can sleep better at night. You can install those on your and your child’s phone and disable their access to them, so they will always share their location with you. Makes it much easier to verify their stories, doesn’t it? This functionality can also help you locate social teenagers in a jiffy, should the need arise.

Moderation is key

It’s important to gain children’s trust and not go overboard with the spyware apps. It could drive both you and them completely mad, so we suggest using them sparingly, or only when you have a real reason to worry or question your kids’ statements. It’s also advisable to be transparent and let them know you can check on them when needed. This would help them learn to always be completely honest with you, even when it means they might get a lecture or not get permission to do something.

Copywriters: Ina Danova

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