How to parent in a digital world– FREE Webinar!!

Hi, I’m Caryn, and I handle business development at Clean Router.

 

Hi, I’m Rachel, and I’m social media manager at Clean Router.

 

But we’re also moms, and we want to talk to you moms to mom (or moms to dad) today. I have two teenagers. My kids used to spend way too much time on the internet, and we never really knew what they were doing or seeing online. They would flop on the couch or their beds with their phones after school every day and stay there for hours!

 

 

I have three kids ages four, two, and seven months. When my oldest  child was born, I was amazed how quickly she started reaching for my phone! I thought online safety and screen time limits were for moms with older kids, but my toddlers can’t get enough of smartphones and tablets. My four year old is almost as tech savvy as I am, and my two year old can go from app to app in seconds. Even the crawling baby will “sprint” across the floor to get to a device!

 

 

Last year we attended a seminar at my daughter’s junior high where an assistant chief of police and his partners talked about the dangers of the internet. He explained how popular websites and apps make sex trafficking so much easier for predators. They see cases where predators talk to kids online, gain their trust, and convince kids to meet them. He told us the average age that a child is exposed to pornography is age nine.  NINE!! I was scared to death! My 8th grade daughter had a phone, a laptop, and an iPad. My 6th grade son had an iPad. My kids are smart, and I thought I could trust their good hearts to keep them out of trouble. I realized then that as smart and good as my kids are, I can’t expect them to outsmart adults with years of experience grooming and manipulating children.

 

Clean Router for Every Device in Your Home

 

My toddlers and I like to watch animal videos or clips of Disney movies on YouTube. They love getting to be the one to hold the device and pick the next video. When I read online about disturbing YouTube videos featuring characters from children’s media, I was horrified! As closely as I watch my kids on their devices, I worried that they would be faster than me or that I could be fooled by a misleading thumbnail. I know I can’t shelter my kids forever, but preserving their innocence until kindergarten doesn’t seem too much to ask!

 

 

We may work for a router company, but neither of us is a computer whiz. 

 

You’ve got that right! But it doesn’t take a computer science degree or IT experience to keep your kids safe online. We at Clean Router have put together a webinar with easy internet safety tips any parent can implement!

 

 

Best of all, it’s FREE!

 

The webinar, hosted by Spencer, our CEO, and Ryan, a member of our support team, will take about thirty minutes. They’ll review some statistics about pornography and internet safety and walk you through creating a plan to keep your kids safe online. You will get a chance to ask questions about internet safety, and there will even be a prize at the end!

My family has created an internet safety plan that works for us. It’s simple enough that my toddlers understand the rules, and it’s easy and practical enough for me to keep in place on the craziest days.

 

I put my kids’ devices on a schedule. Now they sleep better at night and we spend more time together as a family during the day!

 

Sign up now for our next free live event!

 

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Apple Bans Parental Control Apps. Here’s what you need to know!

Apple has recently banned some of the most popular parental control apps from the App Store. (Update: Apple retracted the anti-MDM policy on June 4, 2019.) The remaining apps in the store have removed the ability to provide effective parental controls. We created CleanRouter because we believed parents should have control over the amount of screen time and content on their children’s devices. We still do.

 

What can you do to protect your family? Our Child App for Android and iOS are distributed via our internal infrastructure and NOT through Apple’s App Store. Our Child App has the following features:

  • Enable or disable specific apps
  • Enable time restrictions
  • Turn the device’s internet off and on
  • CleanBrowser, which replaces Safari, Chrome, etc., to provide safe browsing on your Clean Router network or a 4G connection

 

How do you get started? Our Child App is included in the mobile subscription, so Clean Router users on this plan can contact support to get started! Email us at support@cleanrouter.com,  call 520-445-4673 during our regular service hours of 7am-7pm MST (Arizona time) weekdays, 10am-4pm Saturday, or use the live chat feature on our website, CleanRouter.com! Families with the basic subscription, now is a great time to upgrade! Contact us today using any of the methods above!

 

If you have been following the controversy surrounding this story, you may have read about a technology called Mobile Device Management, or MDM. After meeting all of Apple’s requirements, including applying for several licenses, we have implemented the use of MDM in our Child App. It’s the only way to give parents the ability to see what apps are on their kids’ devices and allow or block those apps. For reasons Apple has not disclosed, the use of MDM is permitted on Apple devices, but the distribution of apps using MDM through the App store is now prohibited. Other articles have pointed out how this decision coincides with the release of Apple’s new parental controls feature, Screen Time. We will not comment on Apple’s possible motives.

 

Of course, families should guard their online privacy closely and choose their parental controls software with great care. Clean Router only gathers and uses the necessary data for the Child App to function properly. We also do not share or sell data to third parties. We have followed and will continue to follow the policies put in place by both Apple and Google. If you ever have any questions or concerns about your Clean Router, please contact us using any of the methods listed above.

 

Clean Router remains dedicated to providing families with online peace of mind.

 

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Learn tips to keep your kids safe online

 

Forget Momo, here’s what parents really need to understand about YouTube

If you clicked on this article hoping to read about Momo, you are in the wrong place. The horrifying creature has already gotten more attention than she (it?) deserves, and I’d rather not waste any more words on her. And I certainly won’t be including any pictures.

 

Momo captures every parent’s worst fear about the internet, so the story has understandably caught fire online, but she (it?) has not changed anything about YouTube. The reality of the dangers of YouTube are larger than any one threat of questionable veracity.

 

But I just emerged from under a rock and have no idea what you’re talking about!! What’s Momo?? Pleeaassee??

 

Fine.

 

Momoisaterrifyingpossiblyfemaleprobablyfictionalcharacterthatappearsinthemiddleofseeminglyinnocentvideosofcartooncharactersandtellskidstohurtthemselvesandthreatenstheirparents’livesiftheytell.

 

Ok, that’s all the time I’m giving this subject. Moving on…

 

It does not matter if Momo is real or a hoax. Well, it matters to YouTube, law enforcement, and filtering companies like us, Clean Router. But for parents, nothing has changed. YouTube is still a microcosm of the internet as a whole: fun, weird, educational, dumb, incredibly useful, dangerous, uplifting, and capable of wasting hours of your family’s time. With that said, there are some specific aspects of YouTube parents need to understand to protect their families.

 

1) Filtering options exist, but they are not foolproof

Our CleanYouTube is awesome. YouTube Kids is pretty good. Neither are a replacement for parental supervision. Because billions of people can and do add content daily, filters have a hard time keeping up with all the new content. Block YouTube and any alternative your family uses. When your kids access YouTube, insist they do so in a public area of your home with an adult present. Kids think they won’t run into trouble because they are not looking for it; parents may think the same. But the reality is…

 

2) YouTube has gotten sneakier

Not the company themselves, but the users who upload inappropriate content. Obviously the “Girls Gone Wild” videos are trouble, but seemingly innocent options can have yucky surprises. It’s been well-documented over the past few years that videos of popular cartoon characters like Peppa the Pig and Elsa engaging in disturbing behaviors have flooded YouTube and are even slipping by YouTube Kids’ filters. The thumbnail and title contain no hint of the inappropriate content– there is literally no way to know if the video is ok until it’s too late. Gone are the days when raunchy sidebar videos were the most insidious YouTube threat.

 

3) Keeping your kids safe on YouTube requires more vigilance than other online content

Because disturbing YouTube content appears out of the clear blue, visiting YouTube is just more risky than accessing other parts of the internet. For parents, this probably means setting stricter rules. As suggested above, blocking YouTube is wise, especially with an option that allows temporary access with a password, like Clean Router. If you normally require kids to use computers and mobile devices in public areas of your home, you may want to require an adult in the room while using YouTube. You might allow some unstructured web surfing, but make your kids tell you exactly what they will be watching on YouTube, then leave the site when their video is finished. If you choose to allow younger children to watch YouTube videos, you should probably be next to them. On YouTube, secrets and privacy should be nonexistent.

 

Specific internet threats come and go, but the overall danger level of the internet and particularly YouTube stays more or less the same. Even if a scary face is not currently on the front page of Google News, pornography and other disturbing content still exists online, only a few clicks away from your kids. Parents, embrace the cat videos, because if your kids are watching, you should be too.

 

Ready to protect your family with Clean Router?

 

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Establishing Safeguards to Prevent Legal Trouble Online: A guest post from Carver, Cantin & Mynarich

As parents, we know excessive screen time and online mischief can impact our kids’ physical and mental health, grades, spirituality, and values. What we often forget or don’t realize, though, is getting into trouble online can have legal consequences for our kids. Today’s guest post from Carver, Cantin & Mynarich offers their legal perspective on why we need to keep our kids safe online.

 

Today’s children are the first digital natives. They were born into a world surrounded by digital devices- the perfect tools for education, communication, and entertainment. Unfortunately, the internet is also a dangerous world with issues ranging from cyber-bullying to inappropriate content. Here are a few ways parents can keep their children safe online and help them avoid legal trouble.   

 

Begin by limiting online time. The longer a child is exposed to digital media, the greater the chance of being exposed to its harmful effects. Several of the harmful effects of lengthy screen time include obesity from a sedentary lifestyle, sleep problems, and behavioral problems like bullying, learning developments, and violence. Additionally, more screen time means more time to find inappropriate content or get into other trouble online.    

 

So, just how much screen time is too much? According to the Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), children under the age of 18 months should not be exposed to any. Those between 18 to 24-months can be exposed to very limited amounts, while those between 2 to 5-years can handle just one hour of supervised exposure. Beyond the age of 5, an allowance of no more than two hours per day is recommended.

 

Next, parents should monitor online time. Besides exposure time, parents need to determine the quality of the content their children consume. They should help their children choose positive educational content and talk about how to make good choices online. This could entail helping kids discern what is “fake news,” putting in place parental controls to ensure kids aren’t looking at overly-sexualized or other age-inappropriate content, or just talking about things online that might interfere with their emotional, physical, or mental well-being. Moreover, parents should watch programs with their children and discuss what they are watching. This will not only help parents monitor what their kids are doing, it will also help teach their kids the boundaries of what is and isn’t appropriate.

 

Consider installing protective software. Given that adults aren’t available 100% of the time to monitor what kids are watching, protective technology can be really helpful. There are a myriad of technologies that can protect them from potentially harmful content. One such tool is Clean Router. This enables parents to manage and monitor all digital devices in their home. As such, it blocks internet pornography, filters Youtube, enforces time restrictions, and logs all activity.

 

Finally, when it comes to your kids’ online time, be consistent with rules and consequences. One of the negative effects of online exposure to inappropriate content is violence, which includes physical and emotional bullying.

 

Cyberbullying is on the rise, especially among teenagers. It is bullying carried out via digital technologies, such as texts, emails, and social media. Among other things, bullying can cause low self-esteem, drugs and alcohol abuse, poor grades in school, and physical and emotional health issues. Moreover, cyberbullying has serious legal ramifications.   

 

Kids also may not realize the danger of sharing personal information or photos online. This is especially true when it comes to sexting, which involves sharing sexually explicit content via digital devices. Your teenager may think they are just sending a cute picture to their significant other, but in some states, sexting between teens can be legally considered the distribution of child pornography. In fact, several states have specific laws on teen sexting. In Missouri, for example, distribution of a minor’s sexually explicit content can attract a one-year jail sentence and $1,000 fine.

 

With serious risks like this, it is critical that parents establish safeguards to protect their children online. Though the internet is an incredible resource, it also opens the door to emotional, physical, and legal risks, especially for kids and teens.

 

 Carver, Cantin & Mynarich are a team of criminal defense lawyers in Springfield, Missouri. The firm specializes in Internet crimes, along with serious felonies, criminal tax, death penalty prosecutions and a wide-range of other criminal cases. The firm is a 2017 and 2018 U.S. News & Best Lawyers Best Law Firm in America.

 

Thank you, Carver, Cantin & Mynarich!

 

Hey parents, ready for online peace of mind?

 

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Guest post from Mom Loves Best: Why Excessive Screen Time for Kids is Dangerous & What to Do About It

Today we have a treat for you readers: a guest post from Jenny Silverstone, the chief editor and author of Mom Loves Best, a research-driven parenting blog that aims to educate parents on essential topics such as children safety, health, and development.

 

Take it away, Jenny!

 

Do you worry about the amount of screen time your children get each day?

You are not alone. According to a recent report by Common Sense Media, 66% of parents are concerned about the amount of time their children spend on devices. Surprisingly, 50% of teens agree with them.

While technology can open many doors of information and be used for great good, there are also many risks involved. In a society equally obsessed and reliant on technology, how can parents regulate screen time for kids?

 

How Much Screen Time Should My Kids Get?

Screen time for Kids InfographicExposure to media and technology is an inevitably for all children, whether at home or in school. In fact, it is important for your children to be able to understand and utilize the tools available to them.

However, the dangers of smartphones, computers, televisions, and movies, come when they are overused. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has set forth recommended guidelines for how much screen time your child should have each day:

  • Children under 18 months: Screen time is not recommended for children under 18 months. Babies are unable to gain anything from media, though the AAP says video chatting is fine.
  • Children 18 to 24 months: You may begin introducing media to your child in limited amounts.
  • Children 2 to 5 years: Limit to one hour of supervised screen time a day. Choose positive and educational programming. The AAP discovered this screen time is useful most often when parents watch with the children and explain what they are seeing.
  • Children 6 & older: At the age of six, the AAP suggests parents begin determining how much media is appropriate for their child, setting guidelines and making sure media usage does not interfere with your child’s physical, emotional, or mental well-being. Two hours a day has been generally suggested.

It is important parents not only focus on how much screen time their children get, but also on the quality of media they consume. Parents should watch and discuss media with their children, teaching them how to apply what they see to their everyday life.

The Dangers of Excessive Screen Time

There are a number of risks associated with excessive screen time for kids:

  • In young children, screen time has shown to negatively impact learning development. Because they are focused on the screen, they miss opportunities to interact with parents and participate in creative play, two essential activities for learning language, problem-solving, and behavioral skills.
  • Children of all ages have experienced impaired sleep schedules with excessive screen time, having difficulty falling and staying asleep.
  • Screen time of any sort is a risk factor for childhood obesity, with children consuming over 150 extra calories on average per hour of television watched.
  • The bright lights of screens can cause vision problems, headaches, and irritability.
    Communication and interpersonal skills are inhibited.
  • The longer the exposure to a technological screen, the higher the risk.

 

Cutting Down on Screen Time as a Family

The best way to cut down on screen time for your children is to join with them. Making a goal as a family will help everyone remain diligent and accountable. Here are five tips to reduce the amount of screen time you are exposed to:

  1. Designate “no-screen” areas of your home. The best place to start is the dinner table.
  2. Have a plug-in station at night in a public area. All cell-phones are plugged in to be charged overnight, but not available to use.
  3. Try unplugging an hour before bed if you can.
  4. Use this website, sponsored by the AAP, to create a Personalized Family Media Plan. You can also calculate how much time your family spends on a screen.
  5. Avoid placing televisions and computers in bedrooms.
  6. Find a loud timer to keep track of how much screen time your children get. In the hustle and bustle of life, it is easy to lose track of time. You can also use special routers to make setting time restrictions easy.

 

Thanks for joining us today, Jenny!

 

At Clean Router, we understand how difficult it can be to slow your family down and keep them safe from the negative side effects of technology. That is why we strive to provide you with a simple tool to monitor all of the media in your home.

 

Let us help you manage your screen time for kids!

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An interactive internet safety guide for kids– check it out!

Teaching your kids to be safe online doesn’t have to be boring!

 

AT&T has created an internet safety tutorial for kids that quizzes them on online etiquette, protecting personal information, social media safety, and more!

 

2018-04-10

 

Sunny, straightforward, and practical, Sammy’s Guide to Internet Safety will entertain and educate kids. It’s probably best for ages six to ten years old.

 

2018-04-10 (1)

 

Sammy’s Internet Safety Guide does leave off some topics parents will want to make sure to cover, like avoiding pornography, social media FOMO, and the benefits of unplugging. Check out our blog for tips on talking to kids about pornography and the effects of too much screen time!

 

You can also download Sammy’s Internet Safety Guide and print or save it on your computer. This could be a great test to make kids pass before they get online. Parents, teacher, and librarians– take note!

 

We applaud AT&T for promoting internet safety education for kids! Check out Sammy’s Internet Safety Guide here.

 

Protect your home, library, church, or small business with Clean Router! Download our Parent App today to make internet safety easier than ever.

 

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New research links excessive screen time and hyperactive behaviors

New research presented at Neuroscience 2016, the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience, links large amounts of screen time during childhood and hyperactivity behaviors.

 

Researchers have hypothesized that a great deal of sensory stimulation can predispose young children to attentional deficits like ADHD. Obviously, ethical considerations prohibit testing this theory on human children, so the researchers had to use mice. The unfortunate ten day old rodents were exposed to six hours of audio-visual stimulation a day for several weeks. After the exposure period, the mice showed hyperactive behaviors, impaired learning and memory, and increased risk-taking behaviors. Additionally, the mice were more susceptible to cocaine, and the mice’s brains had changed in addiction-related areas. To read more about the study, click here and scroll to page three.

 

While these results may seem alarming, keep in mind that not all human children spend six hours a day watching television or on the iPad. However, this information may be useful for parenting kids with a family or personal history of hyperactivity or addiction. This study also highlights how malleable the brain is in early childhood and supports the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendations for limiting screen time for very young children.

 

Parents, it can be exhausting to enforce screen time rules– especially when kids are on break. Let Clean Router do the work for you! Clean Router will block un-kidfriendly content on every device in your home, set schedules for your kids’s devices, and even put the internet to bed at a decent hour.

 

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You CAN talk to your five year old about pornography– and here’s how

Hey parents– imagine yourself talking to your kids about pornography.

 

How old are your kids?

 

If you’re like most parents, you probably pictured your kids as teens, maybe tweens, shifting uncomfortably in their seats as you talk about addiction, sexuality, respect, and exploitation. There’s only one problem with that plan.

 

It’s way too late.

 

By age fifteen, your teenager is more likely to have seen pornography than not. The average age of a kid seeing pornography for the first time? Twelve years old.  Focus on the Family cites research claiming it’s now eight years old!

 

Parents, if you want to get to your kids first– and believe me, you do– you need to start the conversation about pornography with your kids far before the teen years.

 

How?

 

If you cringe at the idea of discussing prostitution, sexual violence, and addiction with your kindergarten, you’re not alone. If you are ready for the birds and the bees, go for it! If not, you can still break it down for them in ways they can understand.

 

At five years old, kids are ready for a label, a definition, and an action plan:

 

“Pornography is pictures, videos, or words that describe or display private parts of people’s bodies like a woman’s breasts and vulva or a man’s penis. Reading or looking at pornography may make you feel good or excited or uncomfortable, or all of these things. Pornography is unhealthy for your brain, so if you see pornography, look away and tell Mom or Dad as soon as you can. If Mom and Dad aren’t there, tell a teacher or another grown-up.”

 

Your family media rules will also provide opportunities to talk to your kids about internet safety and the power of media.

 

Before you hand them an iPad:

 

“Hey bud, come out here while you play Minecraft. You should always have an adult with you while you’re online.”

 

Explaining media rules:

 

“Pictures, videos, and music can influence our thoughts and emotions, which in turn influence our beliefs and attitudes. That’s why we only allow media in our home that fits with our family’s standards.”

 

 

Turning off an inappropriate movie:

 

“We’re not going to watch any more of this movie because it makes X (drinking alcohol, promiscuity, smoking, being unkind to family members, racial prejudice) look cool. X is really very uncool– it’s bad for Y (our bodies, our families, our minds, society, etc.) because Z (it’s addictive, it causes cancer, it makes people feel unloved, it weakens families, etc.). I know you know X is not ok, but if we watch media that makes X look cool, over time, our brains get tricked into thinking that X really isn’t so bad.”

 

Keep things basic and concrete– anything too abstract will only confuse a five year old. Above all, keep the conversation comfortable and open! As your child grows, he or she will be ready for more information, and you will have laid a foundation by starting early.

 

To protect your family online, try the Clean Router Proven Process!

Complete the set-up wizard

 Name your devices
Enable text and email notifications
Customize time restrictions
Bookmark Settings.CleanRouter.com

 

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There’s a new Messenger app for tweens, and here’s what you need to know

Technically, the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) prohibits websites from collecting information from kids under 13. This hasn’t stopped social media giants from trying to attract the tween crowd, though. Some turn a blind eye to underage accounts, some require nominal verification of parental approval. Most are filled with ads and marketing, much to the parents’ dismay.

 

The latest arrival to the tween social media scene is Kid Messenger, a messaging app developed by Facebook. Intended to be the kid sister of Facebook’s Messenger app, Kid Messenger allows kids to send and receive texts, pictures, and videos to and from a specific contact list created by the parent.

 

Here’s how it works:

 

You start by downloading the Kid Messenger app in the App Store (iOS) or the Amazon app store. As of right now, Kid Messenger is not available in Google Play.

 

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Then, log into an existing Facebook account.

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Enter the child’s name. Both first and last name are required, but it will accept initials in place of the full names.

 

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Parents see a brief rundown of how Messenger Kids works and must accept the terms and conditions to create the account.

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Your child is asked to take or upload a profile picture, then the account creation process is complete. The home page lists, you, the parent, as the only contact and the only person your child can communicate with through the app.

 

If your child wants to expand his contact list, he will click “Ask to Add a Contact,” and this message will appear:

IMG-1677

 

He will type in a name and click send. You will receive this message in your Messenger app:

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Click Find Contact, and you will be redirected to your Facebook account. The Facebook friends you frequently interact with will appear automatically with a blue “Add” button next to their names. Or, you can type a name into the search bar. Either way, click “Add” to add this person to their contact list.

 

You can also manage the Kids Messenger accounts linked to your Facebook account by selecting the Messenger Kids option from the Explore menu.

 

As far as options for your kid’s first social media platform, Kid Messenger is not a bad choice. Facebook seems to have thought of every potential safety concern. The level of parental involvement is unprecedented (to my knowledge, anyway), which will help parents’ peace of mind. If parents don’t feel comfortable putting their kid’s real name or picture on the app, the app seems willing to accept pseudonyms and more ambiguous profile pictures. Of course, a kid could sign up with a friend’s Facebook account, but it hardly seems worth the hassle involved when he could sign up for a SnapChat account within seconds. Some parents may worry about data mining, but that’s an inescapable problem with any online activity, and the app doesn’t require any verifiable personal information. Kid Messenger also contains no advertisements– a rarity in today’s online world!

 

If Kids Messenger satisfies kids’ desire to send funny pictures, it’s certainly better than Instagram or SnapChat. The most likely problem parents will encounter is kids wanting to move on to cooler apps.

 

Keeping your kids safe online is a full-time job– and you’re busy! Let us help!

 

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4 easy (and free!) things you can do to keep your kids safer online

Keeping your kids safe online doesn’t need to be expensive or complicated. Here are four easy and FREE things you can do to protect your family.

 

1. Kick all electronic devices out of bedrooms

If your kids are using the computer behind closed doors, it’s hard to where they go and what they do online. The illusion of privacy also can entice your kids into believing online misbehavior won’t have consequences. For both these reasons, the vast majority of family internet safety experts advise parents to keep all computers and mobile devices in common areas of the house.  If your kids know they could be interrupted at any time, they’ll think twice before they go looking for trouble online.

 

2. Check the browser history often

While this isn’t a silver bullet (kids can easily alter the browser history or use an incognito browser), it’s an important first step to keeping your kids safe online. Glancing through the websites visited on each computer, tablet, or smartphone will give you a basic idea of your kids’ browsing patterns. Keep an eye out for gaps in the history (like if you know your kid was on the computer  from 3pm to 5pm, but nothing is listed between 4:15pm and 4:30pm), late night or early morning browsing, or anything that seems odd or out of character for your kids. Furthermore, let your kids know you periodically check the browsing history. This will give you opportunities to talk to them about internet safety and give them added incentive to follow your family’s media rules.

 

3. Give the internet an early bedtime

Even if all electronic devices stay in the living room or kitchen, even the most frequented areas of your house become deserted at night. Use the parental controls on your kids’ devices to shut the internet down at a certain time, or simply turn off the router when you go to bed.

Bonus– your kids will sleep better, since the blue light from their devices won’t suppress the melatonin in their brains.

 

4. Password-protect all your devices

All computers and mobile devices come with the option to sign in with a password, and this barrier to entry can prevent everything from your baby changing your phone’s language to Arabic, your toddler finding disturbing videos on YouTube, to your tween surfing the web before she’s finished her chores. Furthermore, if the kids are home alone, then no one can be online!

Possible exception: If you’re one of the many families who do not have a landline phone, you may want to consider keeping one phone unlocked so your kids can call for help in case of an emergency.

 

If you liked these tips, check out our family internet safety live event here!

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