Thursday, June 11, 2015

Tips For Keeping Your Kids Safe Online

FTC disclaimer:  This is a sponsored post from U.S. Cellular.  All opinions are my own.

U.S. Cellular offers a FREE PRINTABLE Parent Child agreement to help you discuss safety of the Internet, cell phone usage, limits, and courtesy with your teen or tween.  You don't even need to be a U.S. Cellular customer to access this, although I have been for 10 years and highly recommend them. 

Did you know that June is Internet Safety Month?  (Personally I think every month should be Internet Safety Month, but this is a good time to remind everyone about the cautions of social media in our lives.)

The Pew Research Center found that 74% of teens 12-17 access the Internet on a Smart Phone, tablet, or other mobile device, at least on occasion.  I remember when the big safety suggestion was having one computer in the house and having it in a public area.  That's not realistic these days to help safeguard your kids, so one of the most important things is not giving them a Smart Phone until they show enough maturity to use it properly.   But this is also a little difficult because there are so many things for children to access -- TV shows, magazines, music, videos, and even books.

A great service from U.S. Cellular is the Family Protector Plan.   I wrote a blog post  about this great service in 2013.   This app can help you track where your child is, let you see who is calling them, their texts (if anyone wants to read through the thousands that are sent each month!)  You can also restrict websites.  If your teen is grounded you could restrict all phone numbers but parents and emergency numbers.  That way they still have the safety of a cell phone but not the privileges that most have.  Another great feature is children can send their parent a message with the press of one button if they find themselves in trouble or in a dangerous situation.

Finally, I want to discuss online sharing.  This is something I think adults need a refresher on occasionally as well.  Information, including photos, should be shared wisely online.  I have seen "games" on social media where they ask full name, birth date, place of birth, etc.   That type of information is often what is requested on formal documents.  Children also need to be guarded against identity theft.  One day I saw a photo posted online of a check in at a child's school.   The lady used her son's name and while she didn't have a photo of him in that post, there was a photo of him in her profile photo.  All of this was public.  The information she gave was she picks her son up at school, what time, his name, where he attends school and what he looks like.  Anyone could wander onto this information.

I would also encourage you to consider the talk you should have with your children's teachers this fall.  The Parent Child Agreement might be a good starting place to let them know what rules you have in place for your child regarding mobile devices.  I was appalled recently when I saw some photos of young children (some as young as Kindergarten) on a school's social media page holding up certificates with their full names on them.  I did a search online and saw this is not that uncommon.   Social Media is a wonderful tool, but keeping things such as children's names and where they go to school private is something that I consider a safety concern.  As I was searching social media, I found that it was more often pages for individual grades or classrooms being the worst offenders.  I know most teachers would never do something like this -- perhaps the ones who do don't truly understand Internet safety, but I find it enough of a concern that if I had children, I would be certain to discuss it with every teacher every year.  A private group is much better than a public forum when children are involved.  A child's safety should never be secondary to convenience.  Once again, I believe a great way to approach this talk with your child's teacher is to download the Parent Child Agreement and show it to the teacher as the rules you and your child have agreed on.


  1. I am trying to monitor my daughter's internet usage more

  2. This is all really good information now. It is good to be careful, bad ppl are out there lurking, scary. Good to do what you can without being too restrictive, even though most kids don't like it.

  3. They are only allowed use when I am with them.

  4. I love the Parent/child agreement.

  5. I think every month should have a safety meeting.

  6. Makes me glad I don't have kids.

    slehan at juno dot com