Children across the country are spending more time online – sometimes to learn, often to stay connected to friends and occasionally to find relief from the anxiety they feel when cut-off from support networks.
As screen time rises, children are more likely to interact with online predators. Adults have a responsibility to protect children from abuse, and monitoring a child’s screen time is an important step in protecting children and teens from online predators.
Some important rules to follow to protect your children online :
- Computers tablets, gaming consoles must be in full adult view, observable and interruptible. Telephones must likewise be monitored. A connection to the internet not only gives your child access to adult content, but also allows others – including predators – to contact your children through video game chats, social media apps, and chat rooms.
- Encourage your children to come to you if they encounter something online that is disturbing, and absolutely if someone reaches out to them that they do not know. Often times, predators begin grooming children online and then move to meet in person.
- Have your kids work or play near you, and if you are working, give your child or yourself headphones.
- Make sure you have the proper filters and privacy settings on all of your devices.
- Explain to your children that “send” is forever. They lose control of anything they send.
- Limit children’s screen time. Prepare a schedule for your child’s screen time. Especially in times of crisis, giving a child structure and a schedule helps keep them focused.
We also suggest downloading our Internet Safety Tips and Electronic Device Agreement. Our partners at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) also have a wide array of lessons and videos for children of all ages and developmental levels regarding online safety.