The latest internet scare is “The Momo Challenge” in which children are encouraged to harm or kill themselves. Some of these messages have even been spliced into otherwise innocent videos on YouTube Kids. While the video(s) are taken down once they are reported, it still leaves countless children exposed to harm. What is often viewed as a trusted platform has been compromised – reminding us yet again that technology can be used for good and for harm. Rather than focusing on the horror of the latest sick video (after all, views is what they want!), a better focus would be helping our children stay safe on their devices (cell phones, tablets, computers, etc.) and taking an interest in their online interactions.
We don’t allow children to drive until they are 16. Yet, many of us will hand a 4 year old a device with internet access. I’ve heard it said the internet is like an interstate highway running through the middle of your home. And you’ve just put that into the hands of a child – what training and safety barriers have you put into place to go with that device? It’s not enough to just ‘check their phones’, we owe it to them to protect them. We can’t protect them if we don’t know what we’re up against.
How to Keep Your Kids Safe with Technology
So, what can you do? Lots! Start by getting and staying educated on the technology trends for children. Fortunately, there are resources to help! Here are a few to start:
Remedy LIVE – Trends & Teens – Protect Your Castle
Watch/Listen to the Trends & Teens Podcast. Episode 2, “The Castle” talks about what devices are capable of and practical steps to protect your castle. They discuss:
- In- app purchases (we’re talking real money!)
- Live photos (that you didn’t know were ‘live’ and that you inadvertently share)
- Messaging/pictures/videos that can be deleted
- Apps that are made to hide other apps (think your calculator app)
- Messaging in gaming apps (even ‘safe’ games i.e. “Words with Friends”)
- Video phone calls
- Sexting (how it starts)
- Tips to “protect your castle”
Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media improves the lives of kids and families by providing independent reviews, age ratings, & other information about all types of media.
- You can set up a free account and get customized recommendations for movies, TV, games and books for your family and ages of your children.
- Is your child asking for a new game? This is a great trusted resource to check it out before you inadvertently hand your child something harmful.
- Make a Family Media Agreement
- Family Contracts & Pledges (including children’s pledge, teen’s pledge, parent’s pledge, and family contract for smartphone use)
- Tips and safety advice including quick guides on various social media platforms
Written by Heather Hunley, Coordinator and Editor for LookUp
If you or someone you know is experiencing signs of distress, please reach out to a mental health professional or get confidential, free support and text LOOKUP to 494949 or chat online here.
If you live in Indiana and need help finding a behavioral health provider, visit Find Help or call (800) 284-8439.
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