As kids get older and begin to use computers and the internet for homeschooling, online safety becomes a big concern for parents. Sometimes, not knowing how to keep kids safe online (or what they even need to be aware of) can keep parents from utilizing some great resources for their homeschools.
I’m excited to share this guest post from Jordan Bissell, who is is the creative content strategist at Bark. Bark is an award-winning dashboard whose company mission is to help give parents everywhere that peace of mind when it comes to their kids’ online safety.
School safety isn’t what it was when we were kids. Before the internet, getting shoved into a locker was probably one of the biggest physical threats you had to think about. But for kids today, technology has unleashed a whole host of potential dangers — dangers that you might not even be aware of.
As this new school year kicks off, make sure you’re ready to go with online safety tips, conversation points, and maybe even a parental control tool in your back pocket. That way you can focus on how in the world dividing fractions is supposed to work.
Keep an Eye on Google Docs
Whether your kid is part of a homeschool group, takes some local classes, or just does schoolwork with their siblings, it’s good to know about some of the hidden dangers Google Docs can present.
Kids often use Google Docs to collaborate on projects, but they also use them to chat with each other, to bully someone, or even to express suicidal ideation. Make sure to talk with your kid about the fact that bullying is still bullying if you don’t say it out loud, and remind them that even words they’ve deleted from a Google Doc may be retrieved.
Chat About School Safety: Social Media Edition
Now more than ever, kids are following their soccer club’s Twitter account to get updates or joining a Facebook group for a club. If your child is being introduced to social media through an extracurricular activity, make sure to talk through some healthy online safety rules.
This family-friendly video is a great way to introduce your kid to the concept of online predators in a really approachable, age-appropriate way. Be sure to talk through some of the conversation starters too!
Some good general rules are:
- Keep your personal information private
- Don’t trust that strangers are who they say they are
- Never send photos of yourself to someone you don’t know in real life
- Tell a parent if anyone is being inappropriate
- Know it’s never your fault if a predator contacts you
Put YouTube Limits in Place
YouTube can be a great supplemental resource to help kids dive deeper into a new subject they’re really interested in. Explosive DIY volcano experiments? YouTube’s got ‘em. An in-depth look at the life cycle of a butterfly? Definitely there.
But as great as YouTube can be for engaging kids with learning, it can also show them videos that aren’t appropriate. This guide to YouTube parental controls can help you set some good limits in place for school safety.
YouTube Parental Controls that Help Keep Your Kids Safe
Talk About Healthy Searching
Google is great for so many things. Gone are the days of thumbing through an encyclopedia or perusing the shelves in a library to find information (libraries are still awesome, though). Instead, pretty much anything a kid wants to know — from how many fingers spider monkeys have to what in the world it means to be an underwater welder — can be answered with a couple of simple keystrokes!
That also means pretty much anything can be accessed in a couple of simple keystrokes, unfortunately. Make sure to talk with your kid about:
- Credible information. Teach your child to recognize what’s a quality source and what’s an ad, a personal blog, or a disreputable website.
- Your family’s values. If your family has limits around sexual content, violence, or language, make sure you have a conversation with your kid about what they should do if they accidentally see that content.
If you want to put some extra protections in place, you can limit specific websites (like Netflix) or categories of websites (like sexual content) by using Bark’s web filtering tool.
Set Screen Time Limits
During the heat of summer, it’s a little easier to let one movie turn into a movie marathon or 30 minutes of video game time turn into a few hours, but with school back in session, tech balance is more important than ever.
This is the perfect time to build a tech contract as a family to make sure your kids have plenty of time to get lost in a good book (or just struggle through some geometry problems) during the school day. “Healthy” screen time looks different for every family — and even every child — so this is a great exercise to do to kick off the new school year.
Use Bark’s Parental Controls
No matter how many deep chats you have with your kid or how many tech rules you put in place, it’s just too hard to keep up with reading all the text messages they send or learning all of the intricacies of every social media platform.
If online safety is something you care about, Bark can help by alerting you if your kid encounters cyberbullying, online predators, sexual content, or other potentially harmful content online. The parental control tool can also set detailed screen time schedules (hello, no TikTok at 2 p.m. during piano practicing time), block websites and apps, and much more! To add this extra layer of support, start your free trial today!
What are your best online safety tips for your kids? Drop a comment below and help another techie homeschool mom out!