Digital Safety

Updated: Feb 27

Are there a few tools you would recommend using to keep our kids safe online?

Parent and child smiling together at a kitchen counter while they look at something on a laptop computer.

What can parents do?

There are any number of online tracking or parental tools you can implement on computers, tablets, and smartphones to help keep your kids safe online.

First and most importantly, I encourage parents to invest in communication with kids about what they might come across online that is adult only. Porn isn't inherently bad but it takes an adult to make choices about viewing it and it is made for adults not kids. Remind them that communicating on the Internet or texting isn't private, even if it feels that way.


Second, I'm not a big fan of stranger danger. The vast majority of sexual harassment or abuse is done by people known to kids; so when I talk about chatting with strangers online, I focus on respectful conversations, appropriate topics, and not sharing personal details.


Finally, things shared on the Internet never, ever go away no matter how many times you delete them.


Note:

The Internet and this connected way of accessing information is not going away. We, as parents, need to fold into our ongoing sexuality conversations how to be thoughtful and safe when using these online spaces.




Online Tools to Check Out:

One practical solution is to set up SafeSearch for Google. This, of course, only works if your search engine is Google but Bing and YouTube should have similar features. It's free and relatively easy. You can do this for any and all devices that kids use. It does, however, filter your searches too. That may not be a big deal and you might not mind the absence of porn results coming back when you search for "a big hoe" for your garden and leave off the "e" in hoe. Another more involved option is using an app that you place on a kid's device and then manage and monitor from your computer. Kaspersky Safe Kids and Qustodio are two companies offering software like this. They both offer free versions so you can try them without spending any money. The main difference is Kaspersky's free plan covers multiple devices, while Qustodio only covers one. If I were going to choose, I would pick Qustodio because they are 100% focused on this specific issue, whereas Kaspersky is diversifying from anti-virus software into content filtering, et al. With that said, I only have one kiddo and one device to monitor. Also, be sure to check the privacy policy for any company you are vetting to make sure they are not harvesting your data and selling it.

One final area to think about is video game consoles. Many allow for players to talk to each other while gaming. They should all, also, offer a parental control option so that you can block this feature.