I often speak to parents and get the following questions:
- How old do you think a child should be before they get a smart phone?
- How about social media? My little Susie is begging for an Instagram account. How old do you think she should be before I allow her to use social media?
- How do you keep him or her from becoming a victim – or even a bully- once you give them a smart phone or allow them to go online?
It doesn’t matter where I’m at- as soon as a parent (whether it’s my doctor, dentist, tailor, or another parent at one of my kids’ functions) finds out what I do, some variation of the above three questions come out. Every parent today worries about these things. The good news is that we are all in this together. The bad news is that the answers to these questions are not something we can call our own parents to find out how they handled these situations with us.
Each of these questions is worthy of it’s own blog post. But, for this one, I have a recommendation for every parent and grandparent this holiday season.
The Holiday Protection Package for Digital Kids
A collaborative effort between 4 companies, these companies have come together to offer special promotional pricing for some of their products to enable families to keep their most precious assets (children) of all ages and stages safe. What better gift to give for this holiday season?
More on the products in the package below the video- but you can take advantage of special pricing for each by clicking HERE, and following these easy steps:
Join Frienedy – it’s free.
Log in and type “Protection Package” in to the search bar to find the Holiday Protection Package Wishlist.
Click “Follow Wishlist.” Then you can select any of these products to get the promotional freebies and pricing!
A great entry point to the online world is email.
KidsEmail.org is a fantastic service that allows you to establish an email account for your child, set up parameters, and monitor it, while giving them some independence to begin interacting with an adult-like tool online- all under your watchful eye as a parent. Kids want to feel like grown ups and do what grown ups do. We know, however, that they have to be supervised while they learn, and they have to be protected from strangers who may attempt to lure and contact them. KidsEmail even allows you to pre-approve certain email accounts that your child can accept mail from- and route others through you for approval first.
Now let’s talk about social media.
You may feel (or be told) that you are the ONLY parent in the universe who won’t allow 10 or 12 year old Susie to have an Instagram account. Just because Susie is more technically adept with her smart phone than you may ever aspire to be doesn’t mean she has the social and emotional maturity to jump into an adult world at 12. If she looks 16 and tells you she knows how to operate a motor vehicle, would you put her behind a wheel and tell her to go for it? Of course not! This is why Frienedy was created. Frienedy is a private group networking application- the first of it’s kind, given that it is a social media platform targeted at adults but is compliant with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). It’s a safe place for kids to enter the world of social media via parental guidance, and it’s FREE.
What about cyberbullying or sexting on the phone? How do I protect my child from these?
Thanks to two brilliant dads from Maryland, we have a pretty ingenious answer for you. The answer lies in a new app called PocketGuardian, which is designed to detect any signs of cyberbullying, explicit images, and sexting on your child’s phone and alert you immediately. What?! How do they do that?! Through advanced technology and continuously updated internet algorithms, PocketGuardian simply needs to be installed on your phones (yours and your child’s) to start protecting your child immediately. Wouldn’t you want to know if an explicit photo comes to your child so you can have the conversation now vs. potentially finding out about it when the police come knocking? That’s what I thought.
How about our kids’ schools? Shouldn’t there be more than an assembly each year to teach them the importance of online citizenship?
Glad you were thinking of that- because I was, too. I don’t know about you, but I truly appreciate the folks who come in and talk to our kids intermittently about cyberbullying and online safety. But, given that our kids between ages 8-18 spend approximately 11 hours per day behind screens (when you account for multitasking), shouldn’t there be more focus here? And, frankly, my kids come home after the annual assembly and talk about how boring it was. They already “knew everything” that was being presented. Of course they did- they hear the same thing every year! Luckily, there is Cyber Civics, a curriculum designed just for 6th/7th/8th grade that teaches kids how to develop the best digital safety net there is- the one between their ears!
Best wishes for a joyful and safe holiday season!!!!