NEW YORK, NY (March 29, 2012) – From smartphones to social networks, technology has permanently invaded kids’ lives, says Scott Steinberg, creator of the bestselling The Modern Parent’s Guide high-tech parenting books (free to download on Sony Reader, Amazon Kindle and at http://www.ParentsGuideBooks.com). But with children aged 2-5 better equipped to run apps than tie their shoelaces, and over 80% of two year-olds suddenly boasting an online presence, parents and educators must be prepared to teach them essential digital citizenship and online safety tips.
To help tame the high-tech beast, Steinberg advises that digital parents employ the following online safety and privacy tips:
Online Safety Tips for Kids and Parents
- Homework is for parents too: Always study, research and go-hands on with new technologies to make more informed decisions.
- If time’s tight, get a crash course on new offerings, trends and features by visiting popular product review sites or searching for online tutorials, e.g. “How to Turn Off iPhone Purchases.”
- Besides employing kid-friendly software, apps and web filters, educate children on online dangers and encourage them to speak up when questionable content or situations are encountered.
- Use the parental controls built into popular entertainment devices, video game consoles and operating systems, and password-protect your settings – but don’t employ easily guessable choices like birthdays and anniversaries.
- Activate privacy features built into popular social networks to limit strangers’ access to personal status updates, photos and videos.
- Confine screens to common household areas such as playrooms and dens, so usage and play habits can be monitored.
- Establish predetermined times when usage of high-tech devices is permitted or banned (e.g. during dinner), and always shut screens off at least one hour before bedtime.
- Create and enforce house rules: Experts recommend no more than 60-120 minutes of screen time daily, balanced with other low-tech activities. Some families add or subtract time as a reward or punishment for children’s behavior.
- If you’re worried about children’s online interactions, use programs’ and devices’ built-in features to turn off Internet connectivity, disenable digital purchases and restrict interactions to pre-approved friend lists.
- Talk about safe online spending, and if you allow kids to make purchases, consider restricting these abilities to prepaid cards.
- Never share personal information on the Internet, including addresses, birthdays, phone numbers, ages, locations and hometowns.
- Always avoid mentioning when you’ll be away from home… especially when on vacation.
- Be skeptical of strangers you meet online: What they say, do and post on their profile may not reflect the real-life truth.
- Think twice before posting potentially offensive, embarrassing or controversial content, as it may come back to haunt you – doubly so in the eyes of college recruiters or prospective employers.
- Remain wary when meeting strangers in real-life (and do so only in public places), tell others where you’ll be before leaving, and always bring along a friend or responsible adult when doing so.
About the Author
High-tech parenting expert Scott Steinberg is the CEO of business consulting firm TechSavvy Global, Sears Toy Shop’s tech toy expert and one of today’s most sought-after industry analysts, keynote speakers and expert witnesses. Hailed as a top tech and video game expert by dozens of publications from USA Today to NPR, he’s covered business, entertainment and consumer trends for 400+ outlets from Parents to Rolling Stone. A frequent on-air analyst for TV networks including ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC and CNN, he also hosts popular video shows Family Tech and Game Theory.
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