Safe Surfin’s Moe McClanahan had the honor of talking on the CatFish Cops 5.0 podcast this week about a case she did when she was an investigator. This case was about a youth pastor that was charged with several online sex crimes against children. You can listen to the full podcast here.
She was asked the question, “What are your top two internet safety tips?” Here are Moe’s top two internet safety tips that parents can implement today!
1. No child under the age of 13 should have a smartphone. Why? The Privacy Protection Act was created to keep your child’s information safe online. The minimum age for most apps is 13 years old. When you allow your children to lie about their age on social media platforms, this allows these companies to collect data about your children, eliminating the purpose behind the Privacy Protection Act. While there is no one policing these apps to make sure people are not lying about their age, it is important your children are putting their accurate age to allow the app’s safety features to work properly. For example, Facebook has Messenger Kids that will neutralize predators from connecting with your children. With this in mind, there is no reason for a child to have a smart device under the age of 13, since the ultimate use of a smart device is access to the internet (i.e. all of the social media platforms). So how do you keep in touch with your child if they are under 13? Contrary to popular belief, they still make flip phones! Flip phones are still great (and safer alternative) for phone calls and text messages to ensure you have contact with your child. If a flip phone is not the route for you, it is likely your child will have some access to a phone whether they are at school, sports, or at a friend’s house.
2. Have a monitoring app on your child’s devices and/or have a scheduled time each week to check your child’s devices. Both of these are so important to protecting your child on the internet. There are lots of great monitoring apps like Bark, My Mobile Watchdog, and Life360 that have great safety features for your child, while allowing you to have important conversations on rules and guidelines when it comes to electronics. If a stranger does contact your child, these apps are likely to catch it in REAL TIME! If your child is looking at inappropriate things on the internet, you will be notified in REAL TIME! However, technology is technology and is never 100% accurate. That is why it is important to pair these monitoring apps with checking your child’s devices. If your child knows that you are checking their devices, they are more likely to be responsible when using the internet. It also allows you to have many learning moments with your child so they know what to do if they are contacted by a predator.
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The mission of the Safe Surfin’ Foundation is not only to protect youth from those who would do them harm, but pro-actively educating them in the safe and responsible use of today’s ever-changing technology. Together, we’re improving and saving lives. Help us continue educating kids online by donating today.