It’s hard to believe that summer is right around the corner and for some places, it’s already here! With school out of session, screen time for tweens and teens is likely to increase as they make plans with friends and share photos from vacations. There’s a good chance that much of that time will be unsupervised and could lead to some trouble.
As we all get ready to enjoy the summer months and adjust to seeing people without masks on (it’s been very weird for me if I’m being honest) it’s important to make sure that your kids remember the basics when it comes to online safety for themselves and their families!
To help you out, I’ve put together what I think are the most important tips for parents and children to keep in mind this summer!
Establish/Reinforce Rules for the Online World
Hopefully, you’ve already established rules for the responsible use of technology in your family. Now is a great time to reinforce them for your kids. If you haven’t, don’t stress, now is a great time to do it! To help you out, I have online safety contracts available for both children (click here) and parents (click here). Use them as they are or customize them to best fit your family. Work on them with your kids and keep the signed copies somewhere you both can see them as a reminder for everyone.
Remind them of your expectations when it comes to their safety online making sure to hit on the bigger rules that they should already know including but not limited to:
Never posting personal information on social media (address, phone number, etc)
Avoid “checking in” while travelling
Turn of photo geo-tagging
Keep passwords private and update/change them often
Practice What You Preach
A big part of the reason I encourage a “parent contract” for online safety is that it shows your kids that you are willing to do the work as well. Is there an expectation to go screen free during family time? Make sure your phone is away as well! Is there a technology shut off time? Shut your devices down as well. Make sure you are setting the example!
More so, just like you wouldn’t want your kids posting unflattering pictures of you online, you should do the same. Check with them before posting any pictures onto your accounts that they might find embarrassing.
By sticking to your own rules that you’ve agreed to, your kids will feel inclined to do the same.
Plan Screen-Free Time for the Family
This is probably less about safety but still important. Plan some time where everyone logs off for a while and disconnects from the constant stream of information that is our lives. Start a family book club and have everyone read the same book and talk about it. Bring back family game nights, go for walks together after dinner, plan a weekend away without devices. Structure that screen-free time into your days and stick to them. Before long you’ll be used to the routine and you’ll be thanking me for it!
Here’s hoping that we all have a wonderful summer time as we watch the world slowly come back to a semblance of normality. It has been an interesting year for all of us and one full of teachable moments for children and parents alike.
Selfishly, I am looking forward to the fall and getting back to school because, as fun as virtual assemblies are, I’m really missing seeing everyone in person.
Be well all and I’ll talk to you next week!
Josh Gunderson is an award-winning Bullying Prevention and Social Media Specialist. Josh has appeared on MTV, Comedy and National Geographic. For more information about Josh and his educational programs please visit www.HaveYouMetJosh.com
You can purchase Josh’s books “Cyberbullying: Perpetrators, Bystanders & Victims” and “You’re Doing It Wrong: A Mixtape Memoir” on Amazon! Available in paperback or for Kindle.