Protecting Your Children From Online Dangers

By Emily K. Mayhew, MEd, CSC, LPC-I

Today’s youth are bombarded with unsafe material and messages through the almost unlimited access of social media. No matter how hard you try to protect your children or keep a handle on what they are participating in, it is impossible to completely limit your child’s access to inappropriate online material. The most important thing parents can do is build a relationship of caring and trust with your children where they feel comfortable approaching you with questions and concerns. Teach your family what is appropriate and inappropriate and allow them to share their opinions with you without feeling ridiculed or shamed. Teach your children to alert you or another trusted adult immediately if they encounter inappropriate material online.

Other ways parents can help to guard their children against online dangers include:

*Educate your child on the dangers of social media. Here are some helpful guidelines.

1. Do not befriend anyone that you do not personally know and trust.

2. Do not give out personal information online.

3. Use respectful words and manners and don’t say or do anything on social media that you would not want the whole world to know…There is no such thing as “private” social media.

4. Do not share passwords with friends.

*For safety concerns consider purchasing a simple phone that allows only calls/texts, without Internet access.

*For smart phones: contact your wireless provider to learn about the parental control options your plan/device has available and activate them.

*Put a password on the app store of all devices.

*Insist on knowing your children’s passwords to all accounts and devices.

*Keep in mind that smart phones and other technology devices are a privilege, not a right. Therefore you, as a parent, have the responsibility to know and limit what your child or teen is participating in.

*Consider downloading helpful tools such as Microsoft Family Safety or Screen Time Parental Control (free monitoring apps which alert to which apps, games, and sites are being used, allow parents to block sites, apps, games, etc., and limit amount of time children can spend on devices)

*Educate yourself on the most current dangerous apps. Click here for a great article on the 9 Most Dangerous Apps for Kids http://www.crosswalk.com/family/parenting/kids/9-most-dangerous-apps-for-kids.html

*Educate yourself about the variety of resources available to parents for Internet safety. Great resources include:
1. www.commonsensemedia.org is a great tool to review social networking sites to find what is appropriate for your child.
2. www.connectsafely.org
3. www.cyberbullying.us/report
4. Attend classes provided by local law enforcement or community education support groups.

If you are concerned that your child or teen has been exposed to inappropriate online material or is suffering from pornography exposure or addiction, call me today to schedule a free consultation for in-depth, Christian-based counseling.

Emily Mayhew, MEd, CSC, LPC-I
Office Direct: 972-349-1183
Heartfelt Christian Counseling, PLLC
4702 Rowlett Road, Suite 101
Rowlett, TX 75088-1702
www.heartfeltcc.com
Internship under the supervision of Laura L. Hamman, LPC-S, TX License No. 65581.