5 Tips for Monitoring Kids' Online Activity

5 Tips for Monitoring Kids' Online Activity

Stay on top of your kid’s online life with these tips from the experts.

By Judy Koutsky

Let’s face it -- if it were up to most kids, they’d rather spend most of their time doing online activities -- texting, posting on social media, uploading photos with friends. Just like you want to know who their friends are in school or what afterschool programs they’re participating in, you want to make sure they’re making wise decisions when it comes to social media and technology. We asked the experts how to keep your kids on track when it comes to the cyber world.

1. Why should you monitor your child’s online activities? Knowledge is power and being an informed parent is an excellent insurance policy. “It is so important to be able to safeguard your children and be able to assist them if something does happen,” says Alexis Moore, a cybercrime expert and author of Cyber Self-Defense: Expert Advice to Avoid Online Predators, Identity Theft, Stalking and Cyberbullying. Your child could be a victim of cyberbullying or there could be an unsavory person in contact with him. By communicating openly with your child about social media, you can stop potential problems before they escalate.

2. How do you monitor, while still giving your child trust and independence? Work with your child to determine an agreement of online practices, like which sites are OK (and which are not) and where your child is allowed to use electronic devices (using screens only in the living room or other open areas -- not the bedroom -- decreases the likelihood of inappropriate posts). “Also, it’s important that the parent is a ‘friend’ or in the child’s contacts in all social networking sites,” says Tammy Gruer, media and technology specialist for Guilford County Schools in North Carolina.

3. What should you teach your child about posting? It’s important to explain to your kids that what they post in public stays in public -- and essentially never goes away, explains Gruer. Having a parent on their social media feed encourages kids to act more responsibly.

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4. How do you encourage positive cyber behavior? The online relationship you have with your children should be an open one, with communication and collaboration. The items and discussions they post should prompt conversation with your children about their interests, friends, and choices. “Use it as a learning opportunity to encourage positive online behavior,” says Gruer. Promptly address any inappropriate posts with your child and explain why it’s unacceptable.


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5. Communicate by unplugging. Discuss cyber topics openly at home. Talk about what makes an inappropriate picture or post. “Make your own rule book in regards to being cyber secure with your child but do so knowing that communication with them is key,” says Moore. Discuss what constitutes cyberbullying or trending topics among kids.

How do you monitor your child’s online activities?

Judy Koutsky is the former Editorial Director of KIWI magazine, a green parenting publication. She was also Executive Editor of Parenting.com, AOL Parent and BabyTalk.com. Follow her on Twitter @JudyKoutsky.

Image ©iStock.com/kali9

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