Protecting Your Child From Social Media Dangers
Keeping Your Child Safe
In today’s world there are many hidden dangers for children that did not exist even 5-10 years ago. Those of you with young children may be overwhelmed by the plethora of social media apps, games and assorted software.
Below we provide a few needed apps to stay ahead of the game in protecting your child from internet predators. Keep in mind that there are innumerable websites with sexual and violent content that are out to grab your child’s attention in any way possible. It is your job as parent to control your child’s environment.
Today many parents walk a thin line between discipline and allowing their child certain freedoms. Most children today have a much greater range of movement and freedom than past generations, as well of course the internet did not exist as we know it when we as parents were children. That being the case, Rule no#1 is still, You are the Boss of the internet. Let me repeat.
#1 YOU ARE THE BOSS OF THE INTERNET
You pay the bills, you bought the computer and the phone. Do not let your child emotionally control you into allowing and restricted access.
#2 Know all the passwords.
You should all your children’s passwords and IDs and you should check ALL devices at random times to prevent any activity that might be objectionable. If there are any questions, see rule #1.
#3 Set Access Times
Your children should only be allowed to be online and have access to all devices during child appropriate hours. Anyone seeking to chat or engage with a child at midnight or beyond is not a good sign.
Below you will find other great tools to assist you in being the BOSS of your internet world.
The FBI’s Child ID App
The first mobile application launched by the FBI provides a convenient place to electronically store photos and vital information about your children. In just a few clicks, you can show your child’s photo and provide their physical identifiers, such as height and weight, to authorities. A conveniently placed tab also allows you to easily email the information to police in a matter of seconds. The application also includes tips on keeping your children safe, as well as specific guidance on what you should do in those few crucial hours after a child goes missing.
Sex Offender Search
Keep your family protected by downloading this application that lets you know where sex offenders are living in your neighborhood with the most up-to-date information from the National Sex Offender Registry. When you register for an account, you’ll also receive the option to subscribe to monthly offender report e-mails notifying you of new activity in the area.
Find My Kids ~ Footprints
Track your children and share locations with family and friends at any time using thisapplication. The clear and simple interface allows parents to keep track of their children’s whereabouts in real time and see where they have been. Setting up Geofences, such as your child’s school, notifies you when those fences have been crossed. Want to know when your child is on the move? Activating movement censors will notify you immediately.
Live a more care-free life by using the Near Parent application, which enables parents to care for their children through a social network of helpers they trust. This application allows children to check in every now and then, and lets parents know that everything is okay. When your child actually needs help, a request is sent to a community of trusted adults chosen by the parent. With MyZones, parents can define safe areas for their children with a set timeframe of when their child should be in a specific area. Setting up weather warnings allows you to receive notifications for various kinds of weather events such as floods, heat and earthquakes.
This application from the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) is designed to help in the search for and safe recovery of missing children. A real-time feed of active AMBER Alerts provides information about the victim, abductor and possible vehicle description. Each listing of a missing child includes photos and any known details about the circumstances surrounding their disappearance. Have a tip? Press a button that automatically calls NCMEC’s toll-free 24-hour hotline 1-800-THE-LOST. Or send a report that includes your current GPS coordinates and phone number in case more details are needed.
Hero is an app available on Android and Apple devices that is meant to combine social networking, crowd-sourcing and geo-location technology. Developer Apptooth promises that the program’s features can help keep parents and children safe in numerous scenarios where spreading information quickly and efficiently is vital, including abductions, robberies and car accidents. With the press of a button, users can stream video, audio and GPS coordinates to their social network contacts and all other app users within a five-mile radius, providing details that can aid in locating a missing child or a potential suspect.
Norton Online Family
There are many potential dangers for children lurking on the Internet, and Norton Online Family is designed to help you protect them with tools accessible from any computer or smartphone. The program allows parents to monitor kids’ web browsing, social media activity and Internet searches, filter out inappropriate sites and set limits on their computer time. The basic app and program are available for free download here. The company also offers a premier service with additional features like video monitoring and extended history reports that costs $30-50/year.
McGruff SafeGuard Browser
A free browser designed for iPhone and iPad users, McGruff SafeGuard offers website filtering based on age range or 60 different categories of potentially inappropriate site content like pornography, violence or gambling. Parents can also set specific sites to block by name. Users can have daily summaries of their child’s online activity sent to them by email to monitor their Internet use. Some features require an in-app upgrade purchase. McGruff SafeGuard also offers a PC version of the program starting at $7/month.
Action Alert offers eight tools to increase Internet safety on home computers. Along with basic website blocking and filtering options, the free version also allows parents to shut a computer down remotely, record hours of activity, log keystrokes and receive email or text alerts about inappropriate use. The program is endorsed by the Child Safety Network and has received a Disney iParenting Media Award. A “Maximum Protection” version with more customizable options and social network monitoring is available for $29.99.