The internet, smartphones and computers have made the world more convenient, but they have also added a lot of complexity for parents who are concerned about protecting their kids from online problems.
Families now have to worry about a gauntlet of issues, including too much screen time, cyberbullying and online predators. But you don’t have to face these on your own. Our sponsor WebWatcher takes a smart approach to monitoring your children’s technology use.
WebWatcher adapts to your family’s needs, whether you have younger children or tweens or teens. Let’s take a closer look at what parents of older kids need to be aware of when it comes to online concerns.
1. Screen time addiction
The world is a lot different from when you were growing up. Today’s children spend a startling amount of time staring at the screens of digital devices. According to Common Sense Media, children spend, on average, almost nine hours a day texting, playing games, watching videos and accessing social media on their gadgets.
A research study conducted in the UK in 2018 found both teens and parents feel mobile devices are daily distractions and can be a source of conflict. An Australian study explored the link between late-night phone use (sometimes called "vamping") and depressed moods and lower self-esteem.
WebWatcher works with iPhone and Android, as well as Windows, Mac and Chromebook devices. Whatever your kid uses, WebWatcher has you covered with its smart monitoring system. You can check on your child’s activity and monitor how much time they’re spending online. This can help you enforce rules about screen time limitations.
Cyberbullying can take many forms, whether from peers or internet strangers. It can happen through text messages, on social media sites and through other online venues. Studies have shown a rise in cyberbullying with kids as both victims and witnesses. A major 2018 study found links between cyberbullying and self-harm and suicidal behaviors in children and young people.
Parents need to have open conversations with their children about what cyberbullying is, how to recognize it and how to respond to it. WebWatcher encourages using its monitoring software to keep an eye on online interactions and to help start a family dialogue about cyberbullying.
Once photos are loose on the internet, it’s impossible to make them disappear. This is a concept some teens and tweens have trouble grasping, which is part of why sexting, the sending of nude or suggestive pictures through texts or other means, is so troubling. The receiver of a sext may share or forward it without the sender’s consent, or use it as a form of threat or blackmail.
A 2018 meta-analysis found sexting is becoming more common among youth. WebWatcher’s monitoring software can be used to monitor your teen’s texts and online messages. Take the time to talk to your teen about these potentially risky behaviors and the role WebWatcher plays in your family’s internet safety plan.
4. Online predators
The internet can act like a mask. When kids interact with strangers online, they may not know who the real person is. Online predators take advantage of children’s vulnerabilities. Parents need to be aware of what their kids are doing online and keep a line of communication open with their kids to help educate them and protect them from predators.
WebWatcher asks parents to look out for signs your child might be interacting with an online predator. Becoming secretive about internet use, using alternate email addresses or screen names and withdrawing from normal activities may be red flags. This is the time to talk to your kid and investigate whether an online connection may be a cause for concern.
5. Use of risky apps
Teens have a wide world of apps to choose from that can help enable risky online behavior. You’ve probably heard of Tinder and Snapchat, but there are a host of other apps out there that allow kids to communicate with strangers and friends alike.
WebWatcher’s parental monitoring software can help you keep an eye on your kid’s internet use, but you might consider supplementing that with an agreement that you can periodically check your child’s phone. This can help you spot problematic apps and give you an opportunity to address how they are being used.
WebWatcher recommends talking to your teen or tween about the responsibilities and boundaries that come with owning a smartphone and computer, and how parental oversight is part of that equation. With WebWatcher, you can adjust how the monitoring system works, including switching over to more limited alerts as your child gets older and earns more trust. It can help you find the ideal balance between privacy and safety.
Protect your kids from increasing online dangers
You can protect your kids online and still respect their privacy when you use WebWatcher, a parental monitoring app designed with your kids' safety foremost in mind. WebWatcher works across multiple platforms to keep an eye on your kids' messaging, social media activity and phone calls.