Being a parent is challenging, especially if you are going through a divorce or custody modification. During such a difficult time it can be extremely hard to keep tabs on everything your children are involved in, but it is important to remember that children are very vulnerable during these transition periods. Children of divorce are more likely to succumb to poor decision making, such as wandering onto the internet and into dangerous territory.
Keep up Your Internet Knowledge
Parents and guardians must act as a resource during this fragile time. Responsible parents create responsible children, and acting as a role model is crucial when children need guidance the most. It is very beneficial for each parent themselves to become familiar with internet and social networking sites as well as phone applications. It may even be fun to have your child teach you how the technology works so you can know what they know! Discussing the risks of online and electronic communication with your children can help alleviate a sense of worry from your mind. Talk to your children about the risks of meeting people online, and let them know that meeting someone in person who they may have been communicating with online is never acceptable. If necessary, monitor the child’s browser history to ensure they are accessing appropriate websites, and even let them know that you have restricted the computer to allow only limited access. Assure them that this is in their, and your, best interest.
The Risks of Being Online
Although the internet can be a fascinating new way to connect and can give children a sense of freedom and even a chance to learn new things not available otherwise, there are a multitude of risks associated with diving in head first. Some important factors to discuss with young children are cyberbullying, webcamming, and blogging. Discuss the risks of publishing your personal information online for all to see. It is important to let children know that your actions online can have serious consequences. Many phone applications today allow someone to “check-in” their current location with the tap of a finger. While it may sound fun to let everyone know they are out getting ice cream with some friends, this instantly lets millions of people know where they are at that exact moment and can lead to serious consequences such as child abductions. Teach your children about being tech-responsible.
In addition, there can be legal ramifications to misuse of online or electronic media. A valuable lesson to teach your child is not to respond to mean or rude texts or online messages, and to never share their passwords with anyone, even a close friend or family member (except their parent/guardian). If something bad or suspicious were to happen, these messages could potentially be incriminating. The best way to teach this lesson is to tell your child, if they wouldn’t say it to someone’s face, don’t post it online, text it, or share it through any other type of communication.
Update Privacy Settings
Lastly, parents should make sure to continuously update the privacy settings on their children’s devices, as internet sites change almost daily. What was once private may now be available to everyone, and even if one photo or message is floating around the internet for a few minutes, it can wreak havoc. Additionally, tell your children not to download or install software, even through an accidental pop-up, as this can give other’s access to a computer’s functions, such as the webcam. If something or someone makes your child uncomfortable, make it clear that you as the parent should be the first to know. Furthermore, make sure each parent is on the same page and the restrictions at each house are equal for all children when it comes to internet and electronic monitoring.