Have you ever seen your child type KPC online or on her phone? If you have, and didn’t have a clue what it meant, that is the point. KPC, or Keeping Parents Clueless, is one of the dangers of the iGeneration of children who seem to know infinitely more than parents about everything technology-related. You might feel that the gap is too far for you to consider traveling, but there are some basic and imperative things you can do as a parent to help your child stay connected safely.
Keep technology front and center. It is much harder to learn about the technology your kids are using if it is tucked away in their bedrooms with the door shut. Keep laptops and computers in central locations where it is much easier to see what they are doing and ask questions about their activities and require the doors remain open when online in the bedroom.
Know the details about privacy settings. When it comes to social media options like Facebook and Twitter, the reach your child can have is far and wide. Make sure you know how to help kids limit that reach by understanding the privacy settings. Default settings don’t protect your kids from strangers who are aimed at reaching out to your kids.
- Twitter: The default setting is public. However, you can go into the Settings area and select “Protect My Updates” to make the account private and accessible only to friends and family.
- Facebook: There are different levels of privacy, but you can go under Edit Profile and choose Privacy Settings where you can select the most stringent settings, limiting who can see your child’s wall and who can post on it.
- Video Chat: If your child is using video chat technology, make sure it is not on public sites where anyone has access to the video. Keep chats limited to F2F friends (face-to-face) with whom your kids have real relationships.
- Know the lingo. Half of the battle when it comes to keeping up to speed with children and the technology they use is understanding the lingo and the language. There are many cheat sheets accessible online, just by searching for phrases such as “texting language cheats” or “technology language of kids” that can really help parents. You might want to dig a little deeper into your child’s activities if you see some of the following on their screens: MOS = Mom Over Shoulder; PAW = Parents Are Watching; PAL = Parents Are Looking.
Get online. One of the best ways to learn about the technology your kids are using is to use it yourself. While Facebook might not be enticing to you, just establishing an account will help you understand how your kids are using it and how easily accessible your information can be to everyone else. When my oldest first got her Facebook account it was agreed that I would be her first “friend” – and we learned together how to navigate the site.
Get the passwords. If your kids haven’t established accounts on these social media sites, it can be the first step you take. For those who already have accounts they might be reluctant to give you the passwords. You can even have them put their passwords into sealed envelopes with the agreement that only in emergencies or if you suspect your child of inappropriate behaviors online would the passwords be accessed.
While it can be intimidating to venture into the technological world of your tweens and teens, it is so much better to be prepared than ignorant. Posts, pictures, and details remain in the virtual world indefinitely. Children are not yet mature enough to understand the permanency or consequences of their online behaviors, so we must safeguard them. As the lines between digital and tangible worlds blur, do all you can to help your child remain safe and balanced between the two.
What do five kids ranging in age from kindergarten to high school, a Harvard MBA and years of protecting kids online get you? It gets you Lisa Shaw, Editor at www.ParentingTodaysKids.com and a Senior Director at SpectorSoft, the number one leader in monitoring and protecting your kids online. She’s an expert on the technology and trends that you need to arm yourself with to be the best parent you can be in today’s digital world.