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Keeping Children Safe

Now more and more kids are on devices that have internet access. Survey data shows that a majority of children are receiving their first smart phones between the ages of 8 and 12. Even for kids who don’t have a smart phone they have access to parents’ devices or family computers that have internet access, with social media apps that they can use. Setting limits and anticipating possible problems will safeguard your children.

Digital Citizenship includes 7 areas, each area has its unique points to pay attention to based on kids’ age.

1. Safety and Privacy: this is the area about sharing passwords, setting up parent controls on the devices. One important point is the differentiation of screen name and real name. Never use your full name as your screen name for games.

2. Screen Time: what kids can use the device for? Are they allowed to use the device for games? What are the time that they are allowed to use the device? What are the time they are not allowed to use the device, such as dinner time, bed time. How are these time limits enforced? Do you need set up a program on the device to enforce the time limit? If yes, both parent and kids need agree on these.

3. Social Media: Who can the child connect on social media, family members, friends parents know, strangers? What can be posted and what can not be posted? Especially, what kind of pictures are off limits? What is appropriate behavior if someone else shared an embarrassing photo?

4. Apps and Downloads: Are children allowed to download apps, games, movies, songs, or books? What is age limit of the games and movies that are allowed on the device? Will children pay for all the downloads? or Will children get a budget limit? How is the limit enforced?

5. Texting and Calling: Do you want to set limits on texting? What kinds of limits? Do you want to set limits on who, when, and total number of texting and calls?

6. Reputation and Respect: this is the place to talk about online bully and what is appropriate online behavior to be a respectful digital citizen. One thing I find very helpful to talk that is covered here is the responsibility to the device. Who is going to pay for the repair and replacement if the device is damaged or lost?

7. Online Videos and Cameras: there are some ground rules suggested here that are very helpful and important for kids to know, such as always ask for permission before taking and posting pictures of other people, never publicly embarrass other people.

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