2018-07-25 / Front Page

Keeping your child cyberSafe for summer sleepovers

The summer is here and it’s inevitable that your child will ask you if it’s okay to have a sleepover at a friend’s house.

Before you decide to say yes, it’s vital that you have the answers to the following questions to help better ensure a cybersafe sleepover.

Do you know the family well? Will adults be home the entire time your child is present?

Is their WiFi set up with parental controls and filters, as well as ALL Internet-enabled devices (gaming devices, laptops, smart phones)?

Is your child’s Internet-enabled device (cell phone, tablet) that s/he brings also protected with parental controls and filters?

Depending on the age of your child, will adults be present when the Internet is accessed?

Have you had a discussion with the child’s parents about the cyber-safety guidelines you expect your child to abide by?

If your child or his friend is old enough to have a cell phone, he or she could use it as a device for cyberbullying or sexting. Of course, open access to the digital world also opens up doors to viewing inappropriate or offensive language, access to pornography, or access to your child by an online predator.

Kids also use their time together spending endless hours in the online gaming world which can offer its own set of safety challenges. Controls on gaming systems must also be set up to prevent explicit content from surfacing or potential access by a child predator to your child.

Finally, consider using monitoring tools so you can see what sites or information your child is accessing while away from the home, or the time spent using devices. Of course, this will only work on their own personal devices.

Of course, there is other general information you will want to obtain in advance that doesn’t necessarily involve Internet use to ensure your child’s safety. Make sure that your child knows how to connect with you immediately if anything makes them feel uncomfortable.

I always tell parents to trust their instincts - if you don’t feel confident about sending your child for an overnight’s stay, don’t send them; or instead, invite your child’s friend to stay at your own home where you can better monitor all activity. You can always ask a child to check his phone at the front door when arriving.

(by Donna Rice Hughes, Enough is Enough)

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