Most parents recognize that the internet is not always a safe place for kids. Connected devices offer great opportunities for fun and for learning, but they also present serious dangers for kids of all ages, such as cyberbullying, sexting, and exposure to inappropriate content.
Since removing all access to the internet is not a realistic option for most families, parents are left with the daunting task of putting guardrails around their kids’ interactions with connected technology. Unsure, they wonder which technical safeguards—such as content filters—will help protect their kids and how these tools will fit within their parenting style and values.
That’s why Affinity has been helping parents develop customized internet safety plans for over a decade. These plans take families’ needs and goals into account to truly make technology a force for good within their homes. Read on to find out how.
What an Internet Safety Plan Is Not
To understand how an internet safety plan works to make the internet a safe place for your kids, it’s important to first understand what it is not.
- An internet safety plan is not just software. While any internet safety plan will involve important technical safeguards to protect your kids online, these are never the whole picture. You need more than a filter or a monitoring app to keep your kids safe and to help them develop healthy relationships with technology.
- An internet safety plan is not a one-size-fits-all solution. While many internet safety plans will share common elements, it’s critical for parents to consider their own values and parenting style when developing a plan to safeguard their kids’ internet activity. A good internet safety plan will be an active aid to parenting, not a “set-it-and-forget-it,” stock solution.
- An internet safety plan is not a silver bullet. No solution available will prevent every possible negative experience on the internet. However, an internet safety plan does set up sensible guardrails for internet access and provide visibility and a framework for healthy communication if mistakes happen.
What an Internet Safety Plan Is
An internet safety plan is a comprehensive, customized strategy for making the internet a safe place for your kids.
It starts with a consideration of your goals as a parent, addressing questions like:
- What kind(s) of communication do you want to monitor, restrict, or prevent?
- What kinds of content do you want to block?
- What limits do you want to place on screentime or internet access?
- What freedoms do you want to allow?
Then, it considers all of the devices your kids use to access the internet and communicate with others in a comprehensive device inventory. This gives you a picture of your kids’ relationship with the internet and allows you to decide on the right technical safeguards.
After goals are set and an inventory is performed, parents can then decide which technical safeguards will truly protect their kids and facilitate healthy parent-child communication. When Affinity implements an internet safety plan, one of our technicians installs and configures these safeguards—and then trains parents on how to use them going forward.
Once the right safeguards are in place, an internet safety plan continues with parents’ ongoing engagement in their kids’ interaction with technology. With increased visibility into their kids’ activities online, parents have the tools to initiate conversations with their kids and continue to help them develop healthy online habits.
Who Needs an Internet Safety Plan?
All families need an internet safety plan. Even if you don’t feel like your kids have engaged in any dangerous activities online, it’s a good idea to put parameters around their experience with connected technology—before it becomes an issue.
Some studies show that as much as 70 percent of children aged 7 to 18 have stumbled onto pornography accidentally, often while doing homework. And the age of that exposure keeps getting younger and younger. Parents treat themselves to peace of mind when they have a plan in place to prevent that exposure, or at least to know when it happens.
Ready to Take the Next Step?
If you’re ready to take the next step toward developing a comprehensive internet safety plan that works for your family, contact us today. We’d love to help you make technology a force for good within your home.