How to Monitor Your Kids' Online Activities
The Internet provides lots of opportunities for children! They can use it to communicate with their friends, play various online games, get access to useful information, and so on. However, the Internet can also be a virtual window to unsuitable images and videos, can expose children to online predators, and more. Therefore, it is the duty of any responsible parent to monitor his/her children's online activities. Here's how to do it.
Begin by having an honest discussion with your kids. Tell them that the Internet is useful and fun indeed, but it can also be a source of troubles. It's easier to have this conversation if you refer to cyberbullying and give them a few real-life examples. Let your kids know that you love them a lot, so you want to keep them safe.
Then, install a content filtering application. Most Internet service providers (ISPs) offer free or paid applications that will prevent adult or dangerous content from reaching your kid's device. This is the ideal technical solution, because it can't be bypassed by anyone.
If your ISP doesn't offer this facility, the next best option is to install content filtering applications on all the computers, phones and tablets in your home. Some operating systems, such as Windows 10, include built-in parental controls features; however, you will have to purchase and install applications such as Qustodio (our favorite) on all the mobile devices.
The next step is to start monitoring your kids' online activities. Begin by spending more time together, especially when they are online, to teach them some basic Internet safety rules. Tell them that they shouldn't ever share their full name, address, phone number, school name, pictures, etc.
Teach your kids to use random user names and strong passwords for all their social media accounts. A user name such as "potato73" is less likely to draw attention in comparison with "AmyJohnson" or so. Passwords should have at least 12 random characters and should never be shared with others (excepting you, of course).
Your children may receive threatening messages every now and then; encourage them to ask for your help whenever this happens. Most bullies will look for another target if their first message is ignored; however, if they continue to threaten your child, you should contact the closest law enforcement agency. Kids who are younger than 13 are protected by the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act when they are online.
Computers, tablets and phones should be kept in an area that can be monitored. There are several applications that can be installed and track the amount of time that was spent on a particular device, the names of the visited websites, and so on.
Many kids have discovered inappropriate content by running an innocent web search. So, make it easier for them to access their favorite sites by adding them to the devices' bookmarks lists.
Children who are involved in age-inappropriate activities will often spend a lot of time online, especially at night. They may turn off their phones and tablets as soon as you walk into their rooms, and will often withdraw from various family-related activities. It's your job to help them grow happy and healthy, so you should start monitoring their online activities today.