The mobile communications platform, WhatsApp, recently purchased by Facebook for 19 billion dollars, allows users to text over the Internet, create groups and send unlimited pictures, videos and audio messages. Life Coach and Parenting Expert, Mark Simpson, weighed in on how to protect your child from the growing risks associated with greater access to programs to communicate with mobile phones.
“As more parents and grandparents use Facebook, kids are gravitating to social apps that make it harder for parents to supervise,” said Simpson. “If you are unaware of what your child is using, you may not be able to keep a protective eye out for potential danger.”
Donna Rice Hughes, Founder of Enough Is Enough and leader in making the Internet safer for children and families echoes Simpson’s statements on the importance of being educated on available technology. Hughes elaborated, “While there is no silver bullet to keep kids safe in the virtual space, the good news is that you don’t need a Ph.D. in Internet technology to be a great cyber-parent. However, you do need to make a commitment to become familiar with the technology your children use and to stay current with Internet safety issues.”
Simpson suggests simple steps to protect your children and supervise their online and technology-related activities. Such as:
- Be aware of the technology they are using. Have them show you what apps are on their phone.
- Watch for excessive usage and secretive behavior.
- Have the smart phones turned off and left in a central location in the home at bedtime to avoid the temptations of texting late into the night.
- Don’t be afraid to be the adult and intervene if you sense a problem exists.
- Finally, remember the approach of Ronald Reagan when working with Mikhail Gorbachev, “Trust but verify.”
“Technology isn’t a bad thing. It is, however, powerful and left unsupervised in the hands of children can lead to problems,” Simpson adds. “Sexting, cyber-bullying, or simply not learning the skills of in-person, interpersonal communication are potential dangers of having access to too much technology without adult oversight.”
For resources on protecting your child online, visit www.lifechangems.com.