5 Ways to Keep You and Your Kids Safe Online

Words by
Jackie Baucom

MAR 15, 2024

5 Ways to Keep You and Your Kids Safe Online

Every click online opens a door to endless possibilities. Today’s kids are immersed in a virtual world, spending anywhere between six to ten hours a day online. As technology intertwines with every aspect of our lives, it’s imperative that we equip our families with the knowledge to safeguard their digital footprint. 

Navigating the online landscape poses unique challenges to a child’s emotional, mental, and physical well-being. Ensuring online safety is paramount for families, as children’s online activities on shared devices can inadvertently expose the entire family’s personal data.

Concerns may arise when it seems like our only options are accepting risks, or disconnecting completely. However, there are ways to surf the web safely. 

Cultivating an environment within our families that prioritizes education, encourages open dialogue, and implements proactive measures for online safety is essential. By embracing this comprehensive approach, families can enjoy the benefits of the digital age while effectively mitigating its risks.

1 – Limit & Monitor Your Kids’ Internet Usage

Parents should determine when it’s appropriate for their children to access the internet, but experts do have some advice. 

The American Academy of Pediatrics advises that screen time for children ages 2 to 5 should be limited to one hour per day of high-quality educational content. 

For those 6 and older, the focus is on enforcing consistent limits on both the amount and type of media consumed, ensuring it doesn’t impinge on essential activities like sleep and physical exercise. 

Introducing younger children to digital content is best done through co-viewing, which allows for monitoring and interactive learning, while older children benefit from guidance on digital literacy and online safety.

Approach a child’s internet activity as an ongoing collaboration. Show interest in their online experiences and create a healthy, non-judgmental space for open communication. Instead of restricting them from accessing the internet entirely, help them learn to set healthy boundaries around technology

Practical steps for parents include establishing clear boundaries for internet use, such as:

  • Setting “offline” times during family meals or before bedtime 
  • Implementing parental controls
  • Using content filters
  • Giving them kid-safe tech and/or monitoring age-appropriate apps
  • Fostering open communication about online activities 
  • Encouraging critical thinking about digital content 

Leading by example and engaging in discussions about the digital world can help children develop a healthy and balanced relationship with technology.

2 – Use Kid-safe Devices and/or Install Parental Controls

Most smartphones are designed for adults. Although big tech companies are beginning to put more effort into making devices safe for kids, most of these measures feel like an afterthought (and function that way). Using parental controls or devices designed specifically for kids are two ways parents can give their children the benefits of technology without exposing them to all the dangers.

Parental controls are crucial in ensuring a safe and age-appropriate online experience for children. For parents of younger children, these controls can shield them from inappropriate content and safeguard sensitive information like passwords and financial details. Controls can also help your child learn to set healthy boundaries around tech use in an age-appropriate way. 

When it comes to older children and adolescents, the implementation of these controls can be more nuanced. It’s important for parents to strike a balance between monitoring their child’s online activity and respecting their growing independence.

This delicate balance aims to foster trust and open communication within the family, emphasizing that these measures are not just about restriction but about protection and responsible digital citizenship.

Whether using a third-party parental monitoring app or the safety measures included on a child’s phone, here are some ideas of what to oversee. 

Limit Messaging and Calls

When monitoring a child’s messaging and calls, starting from a place of trust and open communication is essential. As a parent, we should approach monitoring with a genuine desire to keep our children safe and to be an active part of their lives. 

Investing in kid-safe smartphones is one of the best ways to monitor your child’s digital communication. These phones are designed with children’s and teens’ safety as a number one priority, and it can reduce the need to rely on third-party apps. 

Smartphones from Gabb are made with children’s safety and privacy in mind. Our phones let parents set parameters for who a child is allowed to text and call, and come with unlimited minutes and texts to ensure kids are always within reach. 

Be Proactive About Screen Time, Inappropriate Websites, and Apps 

The internet is vast, and kids can (and will) stumble upon inappropriate content without meaning to. Kids may think that they’re downloading a fun music app, but they may actually be joining an inappropriate social network designed for adults. Excessive screen time and exposure to inappropriate content can negatively affect a child’s development

Every child is different, and what may be inappropriate for an eight-year-old child, may be just fine for a thirteen-year-old. The Gabb Phone 3 Pro offers a solution that grows with the child. It features age-restricted apps that can be unlocked as they mature, providing gradual digital autonomy. Additionally, every app on the Gabb store has already been screened for safety and age-appropriate content, so parents can rest easy knowing their child won’t be exposed to explicit or frightening content. 

Limit Exposure to Explicit Music 

Explicit music can be tough to monitor due to the often private nature of listening to music, the inefficiency of many explicit music filters, and the sheer amount of new music released daily. Keep in mind that artists and record labels determine an “explicit” music rating, so it’s not uncommon for music to be labeled incorrectly. Even so, turning on explicit music filters is a good idea.

For parents looking for a more robust option for clean music listening, Gabb Music offers the world’s most extensive (and most diverse) library of clean music for kids and teens. The Gabb Music library includes songs from top artists and genres but filters out anything with inappropriate content (including album artwork) so kids can listen to the songs they want and parents don’t have to worry.

3 – How To Avoid Phishing Scams as a Parent

Phishing scams refer to any scam in which a cybercriminal attempts to trick someone into entering sensitive information by impersonating a trusted or known source. These scams often occur through email, calls, and texts. These swindlers go to great lengths to impersonate brands, entities, and trusted friends or family, leaving many vulnerable to these cyber-attacks.  

Tips for Families to Avoid Phishing Scams

The following tips are an excellent place to start for families looking to keep themselves and their kids safe from phishing scams:

  • Restrict young children’s access to email accounts, and actively monitor older kid’s email communication
  • Learn to identify phishing scams. Most phishing communications have telltale signs such as poor grammar, a sense of urgency, requests for personal information, or alerts of prizes won 
  • Never open links or attachments from an unknown source 
  • Teach the whole family to not share personal information online

4 – Positive Social Media Habits for Kids

Social media is a top concern for many parents. The U.S. Surgeon General released an advisory in May 2023 detailing how social media can harm our kids — showing that almost a third of children under eighteen use social media for multiple hours a day.

Consistent social media usage has been linked to higher rates of depression and anxiety in children and can increase their chances of developing an internet addiction. Because of these risks, parents must be proactive when it comes to social media. 

How Can I Safely Introduce My Kids to Social Media?

The first and best option is to limit access to unsafe social media apps. Remember that social media is designed by (and for) adults so most of these apps are not created with the safety and well-being of kids in mind. In fact, many social media algorithms are designed to be addictive, manipulating users into spending more time online.

Although most social media apps are recommended for children 13 and up, it may be wise to wait until they are much older before allowing them access to these public online spaces. 

Discuss as a family the right time to engage in social media. There may be pressure coming from friends who are already allowed to use it, but each family is different. Our kid’s safety is the first and only priority when it comes to online access. 

When a child is mature enough to access social media, take the time to educate them fully on what their behavior online should look like. Open up and have an honest conversation about privacy and safety

Modeling Safe Social Media Usage for Children

In addition to educating children and setting healthy boundaries around their social media access, it’s also vital that parents set an excellent example for online behavior. Consider limiting how much is posted online, and set boundaries around whether or not family pictures are shared. Show children the importance of respecting their privacy from an early age by asking their permission before sharing anything personal about them.

Take stock of personal screen time, and choose healthier alternatives to spending time online or in front of screens as a family. By setting a solid example and demonstrating the joys of activities other than being online, parents can set children up for success in their online safety.

5 – Remind Your Kids: Don’t Talk to Strangers

For many adults, the internet and social media can be a way to foster connections and grow our communities; for kids and adolescents, this can mean exposing them to strangers and people outside of their trusted circle. Children can become exposed to predators almost anywhere online communication is allowed, including social media and even online video games. 

Parents can limit kids’ overall access to open communication platforms and take an active role in learning about their social circle. Know who the people are on their friend lists, and don’t be afraid to ask them questions about who they’re talking to and what they’re talking about. Additionally, kid-safe smartphones or monitoring apps can prevent outside communication or alert parents when strangers contact their child.

Safeguarding our children is paramount. By employing smart strategies such as the ones mentioned in this article, we create a secure digital haven. From filtering content to managing social media, staying vigilant is key. 

Gabb makes your child’s safety our number one priority. All our devices encourage healthy and necessary communication, while allowing kids to remain protected from dangers found online. Look through our offerings and see what’s right for your family! 

How do you keep your family safe online? Do you have any other ideas we should implement? Let us know in the comments.

Like the post? Leave a comment!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Your comment has been submitted for review! We will notify you when it has been approved and posted!

Thank you!

Share this article with...