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Challenge: Kids and Technology

How Do I Keep My Kids Safe When They Are Online Now More Than Ever?

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I don't know about you, but I am on something like Day 45 of Lockdown and the kids are pushing my limits of "No, you can't watch THAT video on YouTube..." and "No, you can't be on the platform..." I am tired and passed the point of "NO, you can't!" and am now at "Just be careful and let me take nap!"

I know that is not the perfect way to "parenting" when it comes to technology, but I am tired beyond exhaustion. The sad part of being on lockdown and having the kids very connected to the Internet is that it is dangerous, so what can I do to protect my children from the bad guys — the predators out there in Cyberland?

Most of us know that there are no real rules when it comes to the Internet and children can easily find sites by simply using innocent words and phrases that you would never think would have other meanings.

Once I looked up the word "rain stick" and I got a bunch of results that were let's just say: SHOCKING!

There are sites that detail how to grow and process drugs and narcotics; how to sell stolen products; how to make and sell fake IDS; sites that advocate hate and terrorism; and of course, the myriad "get rich quick schemes."

If you, like me ,are not watching and monitoring our kids on the internet with sharp Eagle eyes and ears, we are probably inadvertently allowing our kids to have access to stuff they should not see during their pre-school, elementary, or teen years.

You really want to be aware about what your kids are doing online. They might think they are talking to another child, when in fact, ti could be a bad person who chats with them and then moves them to e-mails, instant messaging and photo exchanges. Even though we are currently in lock-down, many teen-agers think they can go out and "see" friends and could be at risk.

No matter how tired you are, now is more important than ever to help your children understand that they need to practice safety online.

If anything, take the time right now to talk to them about the dangers of being online and teach them how to be safe and how to recognize danger signs. Be sure to keep all computer devices in a common area of the home and watch for any unusual behavior when it comes to your child's online use.

It is vital that you really pay attention to your children's internet habits. I was listening to a podcast the other day and I heard Darren Coleman, an Internet expert , talking about how dangerous chat rooms are for children online. He said that often Cyber-molesters pose as young children and work to gain a child's trust by chatting about music, fashion, celebrities, and other topics — all in the guise that they want to meet up with them at some point. (Right now, many children are at home, but who knows how long a bad person might wait and groom a children for an ultimate meeting?)

Here is an outline of some ideas you can use; set limits and then you can take a nap.

• Get educated about the Internet and how it can hurt your children.

• Talk to them about the dangers they may face. Spend some time with them online.

• Tell them not to give out any personal information of any kind on the Internet.

• Place their computers in common areas of your home where you can watch

them. Supervise their computer use closely.

• Set limits. Don't let them go into chat rooms and don't let them go online at

night, alone in their bedrooms.

• Check histories or logs on the computer to see where your children have been.

• Put computer accounts in your name and make sure you you're your kids' passwords.

• Let them know you'll be checking their online activity.

• Use tracking and blocking products on y our child's computer. You can

purchase these online or in computer stores.

• Use your Internet Service Provider's parental controls and commercial-blocking and filtering tools.

• Have your children sign a pledge to follow certain rules on the Internet.

• If you believe your child is at risk from criminals on the Internet, contact your local police.

We live in a world where we are more connected that ever. Now is the perfect time to educate yourself and your children, so we all can be safer online and offline!

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