Me, Myself & Baby I

Out of the mouths of babes

Parenting in the Technological World

This week’s guest post is written by Tom Lash, owner of ThinkBIG. ThinkBIG was started in 2011 by Tom Lash who is a father of four. With the growing online risk to children, Tom was concerned over the safety of his children, a concern that is shared among many parents. He wanted to offer a solution by providing a safe and entertaining online environment for the whole family.

Technology is moving at a clip never seen before in history and sometimes it’s hard to keep up, especially with those sharp kids. Parenting in the internet age is made all the more difficult due to the fact that most of the innovative technologies are the product of developers and designers born after Ronald Reagan was president.

Monitoring your child’s internet content is darn near impossible if not downright expensive. Costly firewalls and a computer savvy child could prevent you from knowing what your kids are being exposed to online on a daily basis.

Parents need to be involved with what their children are doing online. The key is to strike a good balance between time spent on technology and making real connections, including having face-to-face time with family and friends, using their imagination, and gaining real-life experiences. Some steps parents can take to help keep kids safe online include:
•Setting limits. This includes how much time a child is allowed to spend on the computer, playing video games, using cell phones, etc.
•Get involved. Know what your children are doing online. Computers should not be in their bedrooms, but in a common space such as a family room where you can keep an eye on what they are doing.
•Regularly check friend lists. For middle-school age children, be aware of who their online friends are. Only allow them to be friends with people they know. If they’re on social media, be sure you are their friend so you can monitor activity.
•Educate Yourself. Have an understanding for social networking. Make sure you have a strict privacy policy and ensure privacy settings are set up appropriately. Stay up to date on the latest technologies and how to use them.
•Use Parental Controls. There are many filters available to protect your child’s computer and mobile phones. Be sure to research available resources and make an informed decision. These controls can protect your children from exposure to inappropriate websites. Controls can also monitor website visits and protects children from profanity, spyware, viruses and more.
•Be a role model. It’s hard to set an example for children if you don’t live by your own rules. Make sure you set limits for yourself as well, so your children see that the majority of your time is not spent on technology. That means sometimes not answering your cell or logging onto Facebook, and instead spending quality time with your children. Play a game, create an art project together, throw a ball around, take a day trip. Create technology-free experiences and memories.
•Discuss and implement rules. Be sure you discuss proper use and limitations with children and enforce expectations. Explain your family values and what is acceptable and unacceptable. It is important that they understand current choices can affect their future.

Fortunately, parents aren’t alone in our campaign to keep our children’s internet browsing safe. Products like ThinkBIG’s Big Kid Secure Drive are helping even the most internet-illiterate parent navigate through these difficult times in child rearing.

As technology moves forward and parents scramble to keep up, our only hope is that child safety technology can manage to stay one step ahead too.

Tom Lash, father of four, started ThinkBIG (www.thinkbigcomputing.com) in 2011 to provide a safe online environment for children.

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