The internet can be a scary place for children, increasing their vulnerability and making it much harder for parents to set boundaries for them in a world they barely understand themselves, so the question as a parent is how to protect your child online?
Apps such as Musical.ly, which has now been renamed TikTok, have been in the media on a regular basis due to the sheer number of children who were being groomed, sexualized and abused on this platform, and yet it remains as popular as ever.
For parents who don’t want to give their children smartphones, however, it can be a challenge to do simple things, like get in touch with them when they need to, or to even track them when they are concerned about them (something which is now possible thanks to a variety of apps).
Simply read our handy guide of questions and answers to make the best decision.
What Is A Gizmo Gadget Watch?
Currently, there is something called a Gizmo Gadget watch that allows your child to call and text, as well as leave voice messages. It also allows the parent to manage all of this from their smartphone.
How To Protect Your Child Online With The Light Phone II Features?
“Dumb” phones are becoming the new smartphone, offering only the most essential features, which make it easier for people to leave their smartphones behind and get back to enjoying life the way it was meant to be enjoyed. These phones do not allow access to social media and limit engagement with the phone as much as possible.
At present, the phone is not available to the public as it is still in development, but it is likely going to be even more popular than the original version of the phone which has already sold more than 10,000 times. What is more, the phone is going to be offering 4G.
Can I Limit Engagement With Social Media Via A Tablet?
Tablets are great alternatives to phones because they can be controlled entirely by the parent. Via this device, a child can text with their friend, but they will be unable to download anything that isn’t approved by their parent.
Due to the size of most tablets, they aren’t easy to slip into a pocket, so a person is usually limited to how often they can use it.
How Old Does A Child Need To Be To Use Social Media?
Did you know that most social media sites require that individuals be at least 13 years old before they are able to sign up for an account? This includes Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat, and yet there are so many children – some as young as 8 – being featured on these sites, sharing their personal information and potentially putting themselves in harm’s way by engaging with complete strangers online.
Unfortunately at this stage, these sites do not have stringent methods to verify the ages of their signups – they simply ask you to confirm that you’re over 13 when you sign up and so children will sometimes lie about their age so that they can get access to an account. If your child is under 13, it’s likely best that you say no to social media altogether.
What Creative Alternate Options Are Available?
If you’re not spending hundreds (or perhaps even thousands) on a smartphone and monthly data for your child, you can put that money elsewhere, including into creative materials that could inspire your child’s artistic side.
Ikea, for example, sells an art table that you can set up as a creative corner for your child, stocking it with craft supplies that allow them to express themselves in a way that’s not possible on a smartphone.
How Do I Say No To A Child Who Wants A Smartphone?
We say no all the time when our children ask for things that aren’t good for them. If they ask for chocolate for breakfast, we usually tell them no. If they ask to go to a rock concert at 11, it’s likely we’ll tell them to wait until they are older. It’s the same with smartphones.
If you’re wondering how old a child needs to be before they can get a smartphone, the answer is: when they are old enough to know how to navigate the dangers of the online world. You wouldn’t send your child on a train to visit a distant relative until they were old enough, knowledgeable enough and confident enough to cope with it, and the same goes for the online world.
How Can My Own Behavior Help My Child’s Choices?
Your child will follow in your footsteps and do what you do, not necessarily what you say. If you are on your phone all day, the chances are good that they will consider this to be very normal behavior, so you need to make sure that you are modeling good behavior for them.
Put your phone away for family time – including meals, play time and bedtime – so that your child can engage with you without feeling as though they need to compete with a smartphone.
How Can Education Help Me Protect My Child Online?
Most adults will not have grown up with smartphones and social media, and so our children will likely be much more comfortable with the online world than we are.
This doesn’t mean that they know how to keep themselves safe online – and if we can’t teach them, who will? It’s up to you to educate yourself on every aspect of online engagement your child has.
If your child is old enough for Snapchat, make sure you understand how it works, what the dangers are and how you can protect your child (through privacy settings, for example) before you hand over the reins to them. You taught them how to look both ways before crossing the road – make sure you prepare them for the online world when the time comes to do just that.