This past friday, we hosted some events for our students and staff on being safe as teens and preteens online. Nowadays, some middle schoolers have a cell phone in their pocket. Truth be told, as per the Pew Research Center, around 68 percent of 13 to 14 year olds have a cell phone, with other research stating the normal age that kids get a cell phone is around 12.
If you have given — or are going to give — your child a cell phone, it's time to build up guidelines for how your middle schooler is permitted to use that gadget. Here are some tips for kids — and adults as well! — thanks to Stephen Balkam, originator and CEO of the Family Internet Safety Institute.
Talk with your kids. Discussion is key with regards to internet safety for kids. "It's essential to keep an open exchange of correspondence going, yet in addition to listen while you are doing this," says Balkam. "I know this is easier said than done." Parents ought to expect their middle schooler will see or hear something you wish they wouldn't — and maybe even do things you wish they wouldn't — so it's critical to keep the lines of correspondence open, so you can use those teachable moments.
Learn for yourself. Kids often say: "My mother or father doesn't know how to"... Make sure you know what their apps are and how to use them. Even have your children teach you. I have resorted to my 11 year-old teaching me how to use games and apps.
Use parental controls and screen your kid's use of the phone, tablet, or laptop, especially for younger children. Discover what parental control apps are accessible for your youngster's cell phone. Additionally, make sure to check the settings on their applications (private as much as possible). Internet security in middle schools expects parents to know about how and how often their kid is online.
Lastly, be a good role model . Keep in mind that internet safety for kids begins at home. Check your own high tech devices, apps, social media sites, and usage. Try not to be that parent in the restaurant who looks at their phone every 30 seconds during a family dinner.
Erin Rae is the Curriculum Coordinator at Lockport 91.