COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) – Protecting your children from online predators can be a tough job especially with technology constantly changing. For many parents, technology is just too intimidating and a lot of times your kids know more about how it works than you. But it’s never too late to improve the relationship between you, your kids, and social media.
Step number one, do your research.
Whitney Tucker with Children’s Trust of South Carolina says, “You see on their phone that they have downloaded an app that you don’t recognize, or that you have not been monitoring. I think that it is important for parents to feel empowered to go online, to learn about that, and to talk to their child about that.”
Find a balance.
Access to your children’s passwords may or may not be the solution.
“While privacy is important, you want to make sure that you as a parent have the control that you need to keep that child safe from danger,” says Tucker. No social media at all, as easy as that may sound, isn’t necessarily the answer.
Joe Ryan is the education coordinator with the Internet Crimes Against Children division of the Attorney General’s Office. “By keeping your children away from technology and completely discouraging technology use, you’re actually hurting them because what’s happening is that the children have to go learn how to use that technology from somebody else,” Ryan said.
Instead, you want them to use technology, even better if you use it with them.
“Encouraging them to use it in a safe and responsible way and a lot of times that just means exploring the internet together, exploring apps together, using the smartphones together and making sure that they’re building that relationship over the course of their adolescents,” Ryan said.
And then there are the basics.
“Not sharing things like their full name, their date of birth, their phone number, their address, what school they attend,” Ryan said.
“Things like Snapchat don’t need to monitor exactly where your child is at all times – remind your child that there really is no reason that they need to be able to connect instantly with strangers that they’ve never met in person before,” Tucker said.