Back to School: Offline Parenting Helps Online Safety

As a parent, you know that school supplies today include more than notebooks and pencils. Among the “must-haves” for students are tablets, laptops and smartphones. Now that kids integrate technology into their daily lives, it’s more important than ever for parents to keep tabs on their kids’ activities.

These back-to-school technology safety tips compiled by AT&T can help you take the proper steps to make sure their children are using technology safely.

1) Get tech savvy. Talk to your kids about what sites they’re visiting on the Internet and what kind of social media they are participating in. You should even experiment with them yourself. This will give you a better feel in evaluating risks and potential abuses. Friend them or follow them.
2) Check privacy settings on social media, but emphasize there is no privacy. The more private, the less likely inappropriate material will be received by your child, or sent to their circle of acquaintances. But make sure your child understands that everything sent over the Internet or a cellphone is public and can be shared with the entire world, so it is important that they use good judgment in sending messages and pictures and sharing on social media.
3) Set rules for texting. Only allow texting at specific times - no texting at school, no texting until homework's done, no texting after a certain time at night, and for teens, no texting behind the wheel. Tell your child you have the right to monitor the texts that are sent and received.
4) Research what your carrier offers that can help. For example, some offer wireless parental controls, like Smart Limits for Wireless, that allow parents to block unwanted calls and texts from up to 30 numbers, set monthly limits on texts and mobile purchases and restrict texting, data usage and outbound calling during specified times of day. Most Internet service providers offer parental tools to block access to specific Web pages, as well as to services such as e-mail, instant messaging, chat groups and message boards. Since it’s virtually impossible to stay informed about all the sites kids want to visit, also check to see if your Internet Service Provider offers permission slips, which allow children to request access to unauthorized Web sites. You get to be the judge. Tamper controls are another helpful feature, alerting parents if children attempt to change the settings.
5) Set boundaries. A parent’s responsibilities in overseeing a child’s technology use are not much different than in other areas of daily life. Set clear boundaries on appropriate and inappropriate uses of technology. Make sure these rules and the consequences of breaking them are clear. And monitor use to make sure they are following the rules. Above all, don’t be intimidated. Even if you’re less savvy about the technology than your children, you have the tools to make your job simpler in an ever more complicated world.

If you have teens that are driving, remind them, #ItCanWait – #X Campaign.

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