The Best Way to Keep Kids Safe Online: Be Involved!

Did you know that yesterday was Safer Internet Day? Other than kids whose schools hosted activities and digital and safety experts, many had no idea.

When I go around the country talking to parents about online and digital safety, the discussion often starts off focusing on programs, buttons, products – the things that our kids and teens are using. We cover all sorts of issues from privacy settings to how kids today use these devices to the concerns parents have about the digital world in general.

By the end of the evening, the inevitable question gets asked: “what’s the best program to use to keep an eye on my kids…to be sure they’re safe?”

Good question. Safety is important.

And, sometimes, programs can help us monitor what our kids are doing – when used in the right setting and judiciously.

But, it’s not a program that will keep our kids safe with cell phones, Facebook, computers, games or anything else they use technologically. It’s us…their parents.

The key to online safety is being involved. We have to partner better with our kids and learn to communicate with them. We have to learn enough about the technology they are using to help them be safe when they use the technology.

Think of it this way. We wouldn’t let our kids cross the street along until they had the developmental skills to do so.

We wouldn’t allow our kids to cook in the kitchen until they learned skills with us and how to gain skills over time.

And, we wouldn’t allow them to drive a car until they were the right age, took driver’s education and had the right amount of practice.

So, why are we allowing them to use all this digital stuff without us ensuring they have the safe developmental skills to do so safely and without us having the same good skills to parenting them effectively with those devices as we do with other aspects of their lives?

In short, we’ve been letting them drive the digital world without digital driver’s ed and a license!

It’s time we all had a bit more digital driver’s ed and put the brakes on our kids when needed. We do that…our kids and teens will be markedly more safe than they are today – and all without a single program installed anywhere in our homes.

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