There is a myriad of information out there about parenting today, including how to ensure a safer online experience for your child. I know people often say that there is no parenting manual when you have kids….but believe me, there is a lot of information out there that parents are feeling the need to sift through in order to decipher their particular stance on everything from Formula feeding to Fortnite.
When it comes to the digital world, I see it as my role to wade through all that content, research, data and real life experiences, to offer you the watered down version of all you need to know to help keep your kids safe and smart online. I don’t necessarily like to tell you what to do, but rather give you the information and education to then make an informed decision on what you believe is going to work for your family.
But if I was to tell you 10 things you could do right now to help make screentime and devices a safer online experience for your family, here are 10 things I would tell you and 10 things you can do right this very moment…
- Fortnite: Turn off voice chat by going to the settings menu in top right corner of the main Fortnite page. Then click Audio features and make your choices.
- On Roblox: go to the Account Settings/Privacy Tab and select either “Friends” or “No one” to decide who can make contact via the chat feature. If you don’t want your child talking to ‘strangers’ then this is a good place to start.
- Musical.ly: Go to settings and scroll to privacy. There are 3 options “Only friends can direct.ly.me”, “hide location info”, and “private account”. Select all 3 options for a safer experience. Also saving musical clips to your camera roll and sharing with close friends is a safer option than uploading online to your account.
- Snapchat: if your child loves playing with the filters and has used them as an excuse to get a snapchat account, remind them that they can instead use your account (or set one up for yourself) but they only take the photos and save them to a camera roll rather than uploading them to snapchat. They can still have the photos and message them to friends, they are just not having them let loose in cyberspace.
- Go to google.com/preferences and turn on Safe Search (not going to prevent everything and not 100% but better than nothing).
- Go to youtube.com. Go to your account, settings, and click on restricted mode. Ditto for above but better than nothing.
- Remind your child that their passwords are like undies….change them often and don’t share them with anyone else (Thanks to Kirra from Safe on Social for that tip)
- Instagram:go to your profile, tap the 3 dots (settings), tap comments, tap ‘Enable Offensive Comments Filter’ and this allows Instagram to filer out comments it believes will be harmful or offensive. You can even go as far as Enabling Keyword Filters to choose actual words you never want to see appear in the comment section of your child’s account.
- Facebook: Run a privacy check up. Go to the Question Mark on top right corner (Quick Help), click on privacy check up and go through the 3 areas of Posts, Profile and Apps to check your settings are showing who you want to share with and what you want to show.
- Go to familyzone.com/modernparent and sign up for a Family Zone subscription to help filter out the porn, the violence, the gambling or whatever else you can think of that you don’t want your child exposed to. This is by far the best system I have found to block the unwanted content but also to control time limits and social media access. It also comes with a cyber safety expert such as myself to continue to educate you on best practise and about some of the challenges out there facing us all as we continue raising young people in a digital world.
Now by no means is this an exhaustive list, nor does it in anyway take the place of parenting from a place of conversation and connection. It does however, highlight that there is a lot we can do to make the online experiences a little safer for our kids, and allow them to get back to enjoying all the many wonderful benefits this connected world has to offer.