There is a certain cuteness when kids put on dad’s shoes, or mom’s clothes and makeup. We get more out of it than a chuckle. We get a feeling of pride that our kids want to be like us when they grow up. But it’s not so cute when they get into the beer fridge or medicine cabinet. The last thing you want to see is your six year old trying to light up one of your cigarettes.
So where, exactly, does tech fall into that list? Is it innocent mimicry, like a big pair of shoes? Or is it a life-depleting carcinogen? The answer is rather more complicated. Depending on how its used, it could be both. How young is too young for tech gadgets like smartphones? And how do we keep our kids safe when using such devices?
Here are a few thoughts you might find helpful:
The Age of Responsibility
Two decades ago, parents were reluctant to buy cell phones for their teens. A decade ago, it wasn’t uncommon to see 12 year olds walking around with cell phones. Today, feature phones have been replace by smartphones. And the toy phones once carried by pre-teens, have been replaced by real ones. Numerically, there is no wrong age. It is a matter of how responsible your child is. Girls tend to mature earlier than boys. What you have to remember is that a smartphone is not a toy, but a serious communications device that is persistently connected to the world of other communications devices. The possibilities are terrifying.
You may have purchased that smartphone so that you can track them. But if you can track them, other people can, too. The danger level of that phone depends largely on how responsibly your child uses it. When they can do so responsibly, that is probably the right age for them to have one.
New Tech Requires Old-Fashioned Parenting
No matter what the technology happens to be, it will never be safe for kids unless accompanied by old-fashioned parenting. There is no safe tech that allows you to take your eyes off the ball. You still have to know where your kids are, what they’re doing, and whom they’re doing it with. Technology can help you with this. But it can never replace you.
There are a great deal of products on the market that claim to do just that. Some are more useful than others. At the core of WebSafety’s product is an innovating phone locator technology that allows parents to actively monitor their child’s location in realtime. They also provide a control panel that lets you see where your kids have been, what pictures they are posting on social networks, what websites they are visiting, and much more.
Other companies provide similar services. It pays to do some research to see if any of them are right for you. With modern tech, it is not just the kids who have to exercise greater responsibility. It also applies to parents.
Be the Expert
There was a time when the kids were the only ones who knew how to set the VCR. Those days of innocence have long passed. You need to be the expert when it comes to the technology your kids carry. You need to be the one to teach them tech safety such as:
- How to set strong passwords
- How to shield the screen from shoulder surfers when entering personal information
- Never share your unlocked phone with friends
- Which app permissions to refuse
- How to deal with friend requests from people they do not really know
The list goes on… If some of these things sound unfamiliar to you, then you need to take the time to do some research and become the expert. A good place to start is by studying the Parental Controls settings for your child’s phone. If you are not the expert in these matters, someone else will be. And you will be the one locked out.
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