Back to School Online Safety for Elementary to High School
Disclosure: As a #TELUSWISE Ambassador this post is sponsored however, content within is 100% my own opinion.
We’re nearing the end of September and I don’t know about you but I feel like it’s been a blur. Between the morning rush to after school activities, the struggle is real. As our kids get older, we don’t only worry about getting them out the door on time. Back to school online safety is another big worry on parents minds but it doesn’t have to be; TELUS WISE is here to take all the guesswork out of what’s available online to our kids today.
My 7-year-old is big into Minecraft, BIG. If I didn’t limit her tech time she would undoubtedly be attached to Minecraft to no end. Like all parents, I find it tough to find a balance between all the technology and ensuring our kids get real in person experiences, like back to the basics of outside play and building communication and problem solving skills in a relationship environment.
I have seen what my 7-year-old has taught herself on Minecraft, the things she has built and struggled to learn how to build. Thank goodness for YouTube (Psst. Kids YouTube) which she uses to research the different formulas in order to these build elaborate Minecraft projects because I’m clearly no help. She’s already asking for a smartphone; again, she’s 7.
Is your kid ready for a smartphone?
Canadian kids are more connected, more mobile and more social than ever before, and 59% of kids in Grades 4 to 11 have their own cell phone (Source: Media Smarts). For parents, smartphones help you stay in touch with your children, while supporting their development and independence as digital citizens. The decision to give your child a smartphone is a big one and there isn’t a perfect age at which to do so. Take this quiz to see if your child may be ready.
Tips to Ensure Back to School Online Safety:
- Reputation – Know your children’s digital footprint. Be involved and teach your child that what is put out online remains online.
- Almost 50% of teens say they have posted something online that they later regretted. (Source: McAfee study).
- 31% of college admissions officers said they visited an applicant’s social networking page to learn more about them and 30% saw something negative that impacted the student’s application. (Source: Kaplan test prep study)
- 93% of potential employers view candidates’ social profiles before making a hiring decision. More than 50% of job recruiters have reconsidered a candidate after viewing their social pages. (Source: Jobvite.com)
- Permission Settings – Make sure to set your kids settings on their devices to age appropriate which will restrict access to online content outside of their age range. Additionally, each app downloaded will have its own permission settings which you’ll need to oversee to ensure your kids are playing safe online and not allowing access to private information, like location, on your kids device.
- Restrict Apps – Set your children’s app settings so that when they go to download an app, it asks you for your permission before they can go ahead. For Apple devices, this is done easily by setting up “Family Sharing” under your main account.
- Privacy Settings – Set all privacy settings yourself so you know that your kids are not unknowingly sending out personal information. Location settings can be attached to everything we do. Although the ability to use GPS is a great feature for some things, for others, like pictures uploaded to Social Media apps like SnapChat or Instagram, you will not want a location attached for public to see right down to where your family lives. Turn OFF geo-tagging.
- Set Boundaries – Talk to your kids about the possibility that someone may try to talk to them online and what to do if that happens; have boundaries in place for older kids who actively use social media apps like SnapChat where they are always talking to their friends through the app. Encourage and set unplugged time(you too parents) where you have quality family time.
- Don’t Share – Remind your kids to never share passwords or personal information that could allow someone to get into their online accounts, steal their identity or be cyberbullied, email, social media accounts or otherwise. Also, encourage them to use passwords that are not easily guessed and to change them often. If they will forget, they can write them down in a safe spot at home.
- Connect with Known People – Discourage your kids from friending people they don’t know on their social media accounts or online games. This has potential for privacy or security risks that can be avoided.
- Share Your Location – In the event that your older child has accidentally lost their phone, this will allow you to track their device by GPS. You can either play a sound for the device to be found (hopefully in your house…it happens), set the device to lost mode or in the event you suspect it’s been stolen, erase all content to factory setting to avoid personal information getting into the wrong hands. Make sure this is set up before your child steps out of the house. You can also use Find my Friends on an Apple device with anyone who has allowed you to do so.
- Pin a Location – Although encouraging your teen to text you a code word should they get into trouble so you can take action as a parent, I think it’s important to ask for a shared location upon arrival. This is a safety measure I use for my teens when they go out with friends, especially where they may end up in a more remote location like a farm. This is a safety measure I like to encourage my teens to take part in for their own safety. For example, GPS may be disabled on the phone and your teen may be unable to respond; by sharing a pin of their location when they arrive at a gathering, you will have a known last location. On an iPhone, your child opens your last text message and clicks on the (i) beside your name and then “Share my current location”. That’s it. It takes seconds for this safety measure and your mind is set at ease.