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3 Dangers Your Child Faces on the Internet and How to Combat Them


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Parental Controls

Setting parent controls on every device your children has access to is essential to their safety online. 

"They (children) should not have unrestricted access," de Azevedo Hanks says. "I can’t stress that enough. Parents have no clue. I was talking to an acquaintance about that. She has a teenage son and an elementary-age son and they are home together during chunks of time while the parents are at work. We were talking about it and her computer, her iPad, the phones, everything is open. I was just said, 'Do you realize how dangerous that is for your kids?'"

Hanks suggests setting parental control on every device: computers, smartphones, Kindles, iPads, television sets, ect., to protect children from accessing harmful material.

It's also important for parents to have the passwords for their children's social media sites, email, smartphone, and computer.

De Azevedo Hanks says she uses software that requires a password before a new website can be accessed on her computer.

Monitoring

With apps like Hide App-Hide, which prevent parents from seeing what apps their children have downloaded on their phones, it can be difficult to monitor online activity on phones.

De Azevedo Hanks says she pre-sets her children's phones to require a password only she knows to download new apps. That way, she monitors what apps are on the phones her children use. 

She also follows children online through social media. Nothing online is confidential, de Azevedo Hanks says, so it is natural that parents should have the same information about their children that anyone else could access. 

Also having software that allows parents to view browsing history on the computer and what words were typed is helpful. 

Having limits on where and when smartphones can be used is also important. De Azevedo Hanks says her family has a rule that smartphones are not allowed in bedrooms until her children are 18, to keep them from texting throughout the night or accessing inappropriate online material. 

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Keep an Open Dialog

De Azevedo Hanks says to talk to your children when they are young about what's appropriate behavior and what's not when it comes to media consumption. This can be as simple as watching cartoons with toddlers and pointing out what's appropriate behavior. 

"You can kind of start having those conversations and you can help your child develop critical thinking about what they’re seeing and engaging with through digital media," she says. 

She also says parents cannot always protect their children from all the harmful material they wish they could. By opening up a dialog about why restrictions to internet need to be in place, parents can explain why it's important to place restrictions on the internet. 

"Open up a dialog by being supportive by explaining why," de Azevedo Hanks says. "[Explain] why there is no privacy when it comes to technology. It’s not just that you're mean or you don’t trust them. There are people in the world that are up to some really horrible things, and it’s my job to protect them. So explain why."

Image from Getty Images

For more from Dr. Julie de Azevedo Hanks, read The Burnout Cure: An Emotional Survival Guide for Overwhelmed Women.


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