We were pleased to host 225 highly engaged neighbors at our 5th Annual SMAC Event (Santa Monica Against Crime), held at the beautiful Brentwood Country Club. Here are some Tips from Sex Crimes Prosecutor, Robin Sax, on how to proactively engage your kids and grandkids on using the internet in ways that maintain their personal safety & security.
87-92% of child abuse is committed by someone the child knows. Children are the #1 target of identity theft.
Tip #1 – Learn Social Media by signing up yourself! Find out what social platforms your kids use – Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, something new? Ask them to teach you how to set up and use your own account. This first-hand knowledge will help you decide whether and how you want your kids using them.
Tip #2 – Follow the Age Guidelines published by each Social Platform. Each social platform publishes usage guidelines including age recommendations. Read and follow these guidelines. For example, if the minimum user recommendation is 14 years, don’t let your kids sign up at 12. This models to your children that we all need to follow the rules.
Tip #3 – Create a Family Agreement – a code of acceptable electronic usage. In the same way that you may have grown up with limits to TV viewing, so can you set rules on when, where and how much time your kids can be online every day. Your agreement should include the requirement that your children tell you about and provide access to all their accounts, user names, and passwords. It should apply to all their smartphone, laptop/pc, xBox/Playstation/Nintendo, Hulu/amazon/Netflix, etc use. If the rule is broken, you must have a consequence and enforce it. A handy consequence is to lose the phone, device, etc. No phones at the dinner table. This is family time to connect with each other in person. And remember, your kids are also placing their trust in you. Validate and thank them for their honesty and maturity in sharing everything with you.
Tip #4 – Snoop. Tell your kids that you will spot check their online use. Look at their accounts, peek in their phones. Snooping is not meant to invade your child’s privacy. Rather, you are learning about their digital usage and holding them accountable.
Tip #5 – Allow your kids to connect ONLY with real-life friends & family. No casual acquaintances. No friends of friends they have not met in person. Only “friend” true friends and family THEY KNOW IN REAL LIFE. Somebody who appears friendly (and pretty) online, may actually be something very different. If they wouldn’t ask them over for dinner, they shouldn’t be chatting.
Robin is a Los Angeles based attorney, nationally recognized for her expertise as a child advocate, parenting expert and sex crimes prosecutor with the LA District Attorney’s office. She provides legal analysis and commentary on ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox News, The New York Times, Marie Claire, Huffington Post, Psychology Today and the Los Angeles Times.
To access more of Robin’s tips & advice, contact me directly, or visit her website for articles, interviews and her published books: http://www.robinsax.com/