From “tweens” getting their first smart phone, to preschoolers playing games on mom’s tablet, to students researching a science fair project, more and more kids are online. Nearly half of children between first and fourth grade have regular access to a cell phone. The majority of middle school and high school students have their own phones.
Parents are concerned about what their children may be seeing online, but they should also be concerned about what they are sharing online. Here are some tips for parents.
Talk to your kids
If you are not already talking to your children about what they read and watch, or where they play and how they interact online, now is the time to start. Check out this online safety guide and “A Parent’s Guide to Children and Advertising” produced by the Children’s Advertising Review Unit (CARU).
Spend some time with your children online
What sites do they visit? What activities do they take part in? Are these sites appropriate for your child’s level of development?
Explain online advertising. Just like the overall online experience, online advertising is interactive. Help your children understand that banner ads and pop-ups are designed to get clicks. To avoid scammers, make a family rule about when children are allowed to click and when they are not.
Have a rule about sharing
Tell your children to ask you before they share personal information or photos online. Once that information is on the web, you may not be able to control who sees it and how they use it. Your children should always tell you the types of information they are asked to share or want to share online.
Use parental controls
Computers, Internet browsers, tablets and mobile phones have parental controls that you can use to place limits on where your children go online, the types of advertising they may encounter, even the hours they can access the device. Get to know what controls are available to you as a parent and learn how to use them. Start with your mobile carrier because most have extensive online resources for parents.
Short for “applications,” apps are downloaded software that run on various devices. You should be aware that apps might collect and share personal information about your child. They may include ads that are not labeled as such. Even free apps may include paid features, and children may not understand that some apps or game features cost money, since they are labeled as free to download.
Read privacy policies
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