As parents, we do what we can to make sure our children are practicing safety on the internet and act responsibly with their electronic devices. We monitor their activities, watch news reports, and try to keep up with current trends. We have a lot working against us already with the evolution of new technologies every time we turn around, but we also have the fast spreading of other influences out of our control such as the friends they make in school or in the neighborhood. Unfortunately, kids today of all ages know more about technology than some adults.
Parents and teachers alike make their best efforts to teach children about internet safety, stranger danger, and responsible usage on a daily basis. The problem comes when we have to face the fact that children’s curiosity and natural innocence can get the best of them and put them in dangerous situations that many of us didn’t think of. Children and teens are impressionable and all it takes is for a handful of kids to learn ways of getting around parental controls, and it spreads like wildfire.
I have recently learned through experience and conversations with other local parents that there are two common ways that kids are now getting around parental controls. The first, is the internet browser itself. When a parent tells a child that they can have internet for You Tube and other internet based sites for school, learning, and games but can not have apps such as TikTok, Instagram, and Snapchat, the child often complies with their parent’s wishes. However, not only can the child see posts from those social media sites on YouTube, they can also access many of the platforms directly from the internet as opposed to having the app. Some even remember to delete it from their history so that no one knows they were logged in to it. Additionally, most smartphones come with an option for private browsing history. If you think your child is too young to have found that feature, I had a six year old point it out to me.
Another way elementary kids are getting around parental control is by controlling their main screens. I check my kids phones every night and didn’t realize how easy it is for them to get around my spot checks. Kids are downloading apps such as TikTok and Snapchat, signing in to their account and when they are done on the app, they log out and delete the app. When they want to go back on, they simply download it from the app store again and sign back in. When doing a spot check on their phones or devices, you won’t see the app anywhere so you would not think they are using it.
WhatsApp is another platform to be aware of. When you sign into the platform without your actual information, you can choose the country you want your “number” to be from and put in anything you want. It is almost impossible without the police doing extensive leg work to find out who the user is. This happened to a local nine-year old who was contacted by a foreign number. She engaged in the conversations out of curiosity and the man on the other end was attempting to obtain videos and photos of the child as well earn her trust. She thought he was from far away and didn’t worry about it. When her mom discovered it and went to the police, they had to issue a subpoena to the corporate office of the platform for user records and are still waiting. Nobody knows if the man was a local neighbor or just an online predator. The girl’s parents monitor activity closely and were thankful the girl forgot to delete her activity that day. It could have ended much worse.
Keeping our kids safe is an ongoing effort every single day. It takes a community to drill into kid’s heads that they are not immune to the bad things in the world. Parents can’t blame schools, and teachers can’t blame parents. It’s a scary world and every bit of knowledge helps keep our babies a little safer. Parental control apps are helpful in this too but like with anything else, kids are smart and soon figure out a way if they really want to. Don’t teach our kids to live in fear, but keep your eyes open and question everything.
What are your thoughts on this? How do you promote internet safety with your kids? Share your ideas in the comments or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please remember to keep all comments kind and helpful. Follow for more articles