Being a parent is scary. As the proud mom of two small children, I worry about everything. Am I feeding them the right foods? Am I teaching them the right way to interact with others? Are they meeting all of their physical milestones? I can only protect them so much, before I turn into one of those crazy moms that refuses to let their kids try new things for fear of them getting hurt. As much as I would like to, at some point, I can't hold their hands through every experience they will ever have.
Since M started Kindergarten, her teachers have sent home instruction for her to visit a few websites for learning programs. I have been very apprehensive to let her play on these websites. I know that the sites that the teachers are requesting are safe and kid friendly. However, I am concerned about her accidentally clicking on a pop up that takes her somewhere that she shouldn't be. I am not talking just about the X-rated sites... I am talking about her going anywhere other that where she needs to be.
As my children get older and my hubby and I inevitably allow them more access to technology, there will be no way for us to sit and look over their shoulders and make sure that they are staying on task or in the safe corners of the internet.
I never wanted to be the parent that snooped around browser history or FB stalked their kids to know what they were are up to. However, I do think that some level of monitoring is necessary to protect my children- from the scum of the world and from the natural curiosities that will occur as they grow.
How do I know that these things will happen? Because... I was a good-ish kid. It took a lot less effort to get away with things before smartphones and GPS tracking. (Don't worry Mom, I really wasn't a bad kid!) My parents still kept close tabs on me- as well as they could. Do I think that they would have handled some situations differently had they known exactly where I was or who I was hanging out with? Yes. Do I get nauseous just thinking about my kids 10 years from now doing those same things? Yes.
With the increased access to technology comes an increased need for parental awareness. Technology is different now that is was when I was a kid- much different! When I was 16, I got my first pager. The average age of kids with their first smartphones is younger than that! So... my question is this, "How are we as parents going to stay a step ahead of the smartphone generation?"
I think the answer to that question is a three-parter. First, I think that it is crucial to discuss with your children what is expected of them. Talk to your kids about how to stay safe on the internet. Second, set limits. Idle handles, right? If we allow our kids too much time with access to the vastness of the internet- they will wander. Third, we must set ourselves up with an appropriate method to monitor and guide our children. Setting internet usage guidelines and time limits seems fairly simple, but how do you monitor your children's activity online when they are the ones that hold the power in their hands?
My answer is the WebSafety app. It allowed us to customize the level of monitoring and provided us with alerts once the limits we set had be surpassed. If you are interested in reading my full review of the WebSafety app- click here. I highly suggest taking a peek.
I would like to thank WebSafety, Inc. for sponsoring this discussion and for their cutting edge app!
Do you have internet safety guidelines set for your kids?