The Verizon Smart Family made a stop in the Philadelphia area to discuss parenting in the digital age. This informative chat was led by Stephen Balkam, the founder and CEO of the Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI). A nationally recognized expert on online safety, Stephen provided tools to help parents and children work together as a team to remain safe online. The digital age can be stressful for kids and parents. Creating a positive digital footprint is important from the time they turn on the device. These tips can help you started.
- Contract: Sit together and discuss the “rules” for technology use. We know that rules that sometimes seem mean and unfair so I prefer to call it a contract. It is important that both child and parent contribute, sign and hang the contract where it is visible to see. The Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI) website has a great example that you can download or use as a guide. As a family, we will finalize ours this week and I will share it with you.
- Google is your Friend: Set an alert with your name and the names of your children, it will notify you if any of the names appear in anything posted. This is a great way to monitor cyberbullying.
- Time Limits: I don't know about you but I can get lost browsing websites or “playing” on social media. How often do you look up and see how much time as actually passed. Our children don't always realize this so setting time limits is important. There are apps that you can add to your phone or you can set these limits by logging into you internet provider account. The VZ Smart family app takes the guest work out of this. You can control their personal devices with a snap to avoid the temptation.
- Location Tracking: This doesn't mean that you don't trust your kids. Things happen and it's important to know where the kids are.
- Content Filters: Content filters block inappropiate websites and apps. There is certainly information on the internet that you don't want your kids stumbling upon. Commonly misspelled words are often attached to adult content.
- Privacy Settings: Check the privacy settings on all social media. The only children who need a public profile are those who use social media for marketing.
- Think Before You Hit Send: It's not easy to recall something posted on the internet. No one knows what happens to the things that we delete. It is important that what you post is something that you would share face to face. Always assume there is no privacy!