10 Ways We Can Keep Our Kids Safer Online


Getting a cell phone is one of those rights of passage these days. I have two boys in high school who both have a phone. And my 10-year-old daughter has an iPad. While I am by no means perfect when it comes to monitoring screen time, I have implemented many safety measures regarding my kids’ online activity.

We can’t avoid technology altogether, but we can be smart about it.

The more I learn about online dangers, the more conscious I realize I need to be about what my kids are doing online. Sextortion. Human trafficking. Pornography. Cyberbullying. These things are real and are happening on our kids’ devices, whether or not we want to admit it.

Let’s not put our heads in the sand, but instead do our best to protect our kids online.

Below are a few ideas either I or people I know employ to keep our kids safe.

Just know, however, that our tech-savvy kids can find a workaround to any of these things. There’s no substitute for open communication, honesty, and lots of questions from parents. It’s important to set the ground rules from the beginning that a kid’s device is not their own, and they don’t have privacy in that area of their life for their own protection.

keep kids safe online1. Bark

The Bark App is one of many parental control apps. It’s the one I’ve chosen to use. With Bark, parents can monitor content, manage screen time, filter websites, and set location alerts. You’ll get alerts for issues like bullying, predators, sexual content, and more.

2. Phone Mirroring

My sister-in-law employs this technique. I know it’s possible on iPhones, but you may have to do some digging to see if it’s possible with other brands. She is logged in with her child’s Apple ID on an old iPhone. So she can see every text and basically every move he makes on his iPhone.

3. No Internet or Social Media for Young Kids

I don’t allow my children to have access to the Internet on their phones or social media accounts until they’re 16. That may sound extreme, but the problems those things can cause are also extreme. Social media is linked to brain changes in teens. (See the research here.) If they need to search the Internet for something, they’re welcome to do it on a large screen in a public space. In my opinion, there’s no reason for a young teen or a child to have full access to the Internet on a tiny screen in his or her pocket.

4. Approve Apps

With Family Apple Share, my husband and I set up an approval process for our kids. When they want a new app, we have to approve it on our phones.

5. Time Limits & Digital Curfews

With an Internet Filtering Device (we have Eero…but there are many available) or on the child’s actual device, you can set time limits for certain apps or for the overall time they can be on their phones. You can also set a digital curfew so no one can sneak an electronic device in the middle of the night. Electronics also have a designated spot where they are put away every evening.

6. Content Filters

Set content filters on kids’ devices to the appropriate age. In addition, use an internet filtering device (Disney Circle or Eero for example) at home. Of course, these don’t work when kids are away from home.

7. Agree to Rules

I love how City Mom Collective owner, Stephanie Flies, had her daughter sign a contract to agree to use her phone responsibly.

We have a hard and fast rule in our home that if you ever embarrass or make fun of anyone (including a sibling) with your electronic device, it does get taken away.

Another unwavering rule in our home is that you are not permitted to have any contact online with anyone you don’t know in real life. This includes video games. I don’t allow my young child to have any chat features, and I can monitor chat with Bark with my older ones (because they do want to talk to their friends).

8. Location Services

I use “Find My Phone.” My sister uses Life 360. What a gift it is that we live in a day and age where we can track our kids’ locations. My kids know if they turn this function off, they are forfeiting the right to own a phone. Helpful hint: this function also comes in handy when AirPods are missing.

9. Discuss Your Child’s Digital Footprint

I am so glad I went to school before the days of social media. But our kids can’t say the same. Every post, picture, or text could follow them for their entire life. Even on private accounts, things could be screenshot and shared. It’s important that kids are aware of how detrimental to their future one thoughtless photo can be.

My oldest is currently applying for colleges and scholarships. He is asked to list his social media profiles on all these applications. And as an employer, I sure do check applicants’ social profiles before hiring.

10. Covenant Eyes

It’s practically impossible to completely avoid pornographic images online. But software such as Covenant Eyes helps our loved ones have accountability to not seek pornography out. It’s scientifically proven that pornography affects our brains in negative ways. And even worse, it can negatively impact our future romantic relationships and sexual expectations. I want to help my kids have strong relationships in the future, which is why we monitor their online activity in this way.

Would you add any other safety measures to this list?


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