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Safety Tips For Parents
In real world situations, what you need to do to keep your kids safe may seem pretty straightforward. But for parents with kids who enjoy gaming, movies and being online, the dangers aren’t quite as obvious—but they’re still very real.
Here are some safety tips on how you can keep your tech-loving kids safe:
Verify Media Safety Ratings
Take the time to check on the themes and ratings of the video games and movies your children are watching. Video games are rated by the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), ranging from E (everyone) to A (adults only), with content descriptors highlighting why the game has been rated like it is.
Movies are rated by the Classification and Ratings Administration (CARA), also with explanations about why a rating was assigned. They range from G (for general audiences) to NC-17 (no one under 17 allowed; used to be X prior to 1990).
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Keep an Eye on Online “Friends”
Not all of the people who may “friend” or follow your child on social media have good intentions. Online predators take it for granted that parents aren’t keeping a close eye on their children’s social media. That’s why it’s a good idea to establish a transparency policy with your child when it comes to social media.
While you don’t necessarily want to dissect their private conversations, you should periodically check on the identities of any social media friends who you or your children don’t really know. If it turns out that a contact is an adult stranger, you may have cause to worry…and reason to have your child unfriend them asap. You can use this online people search to verify someone’s identity. (Note: Due to privacy rules, you will not be able to use this kind of tool to get information about children under 18; only adults.)
Make Sure Other Adults are Safe to Be Around
If you aren’t familiar with the parents of your children’s friends, or have new neighbors who seem odd, you do a little discreet digging into their background. That you can also do with the online search tool mentioned above. In addition to verifying their identities, you may find out more about arrest records, court records, or any other criminal history they may have.
Use Technology to Teach Safety
There are interactive games and movies out there that are not only appropriate for children, they can help to teach kids more about safety in a variety of online and real-world categories.
Children who enjoy video games in general are likely to react more positively to this approach, will feel more engaged to the topic, and will retain the information better.
Kids can learn how to practice cyber safety, road/automotive safety, food safety, how to act in case of a fire or medical emergency, and so forth. Simply search online for the specific topic–i.e. “interactive cyber safety games,” “interactive fire safety games”—and you are sure to find at least one—and likely several–options.
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Make Media Time Family Time
Work and other obligations may keep you from spending as much time with your kids as you’d like. But as time permits, why not involve yourself in the technology that your children love? It’s a great way to spend some quality time together and bond with your tech-loving kid, while also ensuring their safety.
For suggestions on kid-friendly games and movies, check out the Entertainment section.