This article, Knowing When to Check Your Child’s Devices has been contributed by our partner, KidGuard to provide you with tips for ensuring your child’s online safety. Opinions are of the author.
Children as young as 2-years-old are mastering the art of figuring out their parent’s smart devices, computers, you name it. As parents, we want our children to be making smart, safe choices while online, but there may come a time when we feel that something with our child is not right, and that action must be taken to find out the problem when they won’t tell us what it is.
Say your child tells you that they made a new online friend whom they’ve been speaking to quite frequently lately, maybe even on a daily basis. However, after a couple of weeks have gone by, their behavior starts to change and you notice they’re not quite themselves.
Parents may not always catch the first signs, but if you know what to look for straight away, you will know when it’s time to check your child’s devices and see if they are being abused or victimized by an online predator. Catching this situation early enough will ensure that nothing escalates and that your children remain safe and secure.
First, if your child makes it known that they have a new online friend, ask them a number of questions to find out more. For example, what is their full name, where do they go to school, and what area of town are they living in. If your child cannot answer the majority, if not all, of these questions then you may want to be wary.
If your child is no longer interested in their usual activities and hobbies that you know they love, this can be cause for concern. However, don’t assume it’s because of an online predator as they might just be bored and no longer care for such activities.
If your child has been staying up too late on the computer, defying you when you tell him or her that it’s time to go to bed, or even switches windows or shuts the screen off when you enter the room, have a chat with them and ask what they’re doing. If they can give you an answer straight away, show you what it is exactly they are doing, and you are satisfied with their responses, then you should worry less.
If they are using a separate email account, instant messenger name, or are receiving phone calls, gifts, or anything in general from someone you’ve never heard of, be it they’ve never mentioned the person and you’ve never met them, then it’s time to become concerned.
However, if all of the above mentioned has been occurring, and going on for quite some time, or you just have a general suspicion that something is definitely wrong, then it’s time to snoop and go through their devices. It’s not spying and breaching trust if you feel that your child’s safety is at risk.