This post was sponsored by U.S. Cellular and I was compensated with an iPhone 6, however, all opinions are my own. With school out for the summer, the kids and I are online more than ever. When they are in school, they get all of their textbooks and assignments online and do all of their homework via the Internet as well. We have been online so much this past month, we went over our Internet plan! Statistically, 47% of parents said their kids have their own cell phone, with the average age being 12. My kids are 16 and almost 14 and both have an iPhone. Henry has an iPhone 6 and Caitlin has an iPhone 5. Henry uses his to play Minecraft, talk and text his friends and watch YouTube videos on how to play Minecraft! Caitlin uses her phone for listening to music, reading fan fiction, watching Netflix and staying in touch with her friends. The one thing neither of the kids are interested in, at least not yet, is using social media. With the kids using their mobile devices to much, it is prudent for me to know any tips for keeping your family safe online and off this summer.
With so much information available online and with my kids being so active on it, it is a good idea to set some guidelines. Although our smartphones and tablets make our lives easier, it can be hard to know how much freedom our kids should have with them. With June being Internet Safety Month, U.S. Cellular is sharing a list of important tips for parents to monitor their children’s online activities and facilitate conversations about the use of mobile devices.
Make an agreement with your children: U.S. Cellular has created a Parent-Child Agreement to help guide families’ conversations about mobile phone usage. The agreement focuses on safety and etiquette, and is customizable based on each family’s specific needs.
Use protective apps: The U.S. Cellular Family Protector app provides safety and security by monitoring your children’s location and mobile usage. This service allows parents to review their child’s calls and texts, block websites, restrict apps, and more. Children can even send their parents an alert with the simple press of a button if they are in trouble or find themselves in an uncomfortable situation.
Discuss online sharing: Make sure your children know to never share personal information online, including their name, age, address, school, sports teams or passwords. Remind them to communicate only with family or friends and not to answer unsolicited requests or texts. We actually had the opportunity to put the latter into place on a recent trip to Washington D.C. Caitlin continued to receive texts and calls from an unknown number and she knew not to answer as she was unfamiliar with the phone number.
Share photos appropriately: Discuss appropriate use of sharing photos with friends and alert them to never post photos which could contain information about where they live or be seen as inappropriate. We had to speak to Henry about this when he was conversing with a friend on Xbox. The child wanted to see a picture of Henry and gave Henry his cell phone number. He asked Henry to send him a current picture to that phone number. Henry was about to send a recent photo of himself at the local water park. Thankfully, Henry brought it to our attention and we were able to discuss when it is ok and not ok to share photos and personal information online and via your mobile devices.
What tips do you have for keeping your family safe online?