Letting kids or teens use smartphones and tablets

Theresa Payton, National Cyber Security Expert, Mother, and Author, shares advice for parents on how they can keep their kids safe online when they use a smartphone or tablet computer
Kids Online Safety Advice | Letting Kids And Teens Use Smartphones
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Letting kids or teens use smartphones and tablets

So, a lot parents will ask, "When should I buy my kid a phone or a tablet, or, if I have one, how should I let my kids use mine when they wanna use it?" Right? And, so, I will say to them, "Okay. Let's talk about the toddlers first and then let's focus on the older kids." When it comes to the toddlers, obviously, they're using your devices. Password protect those devices. They have to come to you and ask you to unlock them so that when you're having that conversation, "What are you gonna be doing, honey, when you're on the internet. And, then, have a lot of those activities set up for them already on those boundaries. So, they can play. You can do the laundry. You can cook or whatever it is you need to do. But, you know they're in a safe zone. So, let's talk about those middle schoolers and those teenagers and young adults. It is actually okay to go ahead and get phones for your middle schooler if you need to. A lot of parents feel like, "Hey, I need to be able to get in touch with them when they're in their after school activities, and this is the best way to do that." What's great is a lot of the cell phone companies know you're struggling. They know you're struggling with how much freedom do I give them on this phones. And, so, they'll actually sell you family plans which will help you with some of the internet surfing, texting, the phone calls they're allowed to receive, the phone calls they're allowed to send and, then, of course, you are the best line of defense. So, talking to your kids about the rules and setting up sort of guidelines for when you want the phones to be used and not be used. Your older kids, obviously, are gonna be away from you more often, using the devices more often, probably having conversations you're not gonna be in tune with, and that's okay. They're growing up. They're becoming young adults. But, the same thing applies here. So, you can talk to you cell phone companies about some different plans that they have. For example, they have a Locate My Family Plan. So, again, tell your kids you don't want to be spying on them, but to let them know, "If I don't hear from you, the good news is I have a locator. I'm gonna know where your phone or your tablet is. And, then, the last thing, of course, is always talking to them about the rules and making sure they understand. The rules aren't just there to protect them and to prevent them from doing something that can harm themselves. They're also there to help them think about the future and making sure they've got the best digital presents possible as they're growing up and getting ready to start jobs, dating, looking at potential spouses, all of those things that are great part of adulthood, and you're just trying to help them, give them some guidance. As they use these digital devices, they're putting their best face forward.

Theresa Payton, National Cyber Security Expert, Mother, and Author, shares advice for parents on how they can keep their kids safe online when they use a smartphone or tablet computer


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Theresa M. Payton

National Cyber Security Expert

Theresa Payton is a well-known and highly respected national authority on cybersecurity, e-crime and fraud mitigation, and technology implementation. She has over twenty years of advanced business and security technology expertise and leadership at the highest levels of government and in the financial services industry, including being the first woman to serve as Chief Information Officer at the White House.  She is a wife and mother to three fabulous and fun kids.  She is also the co-author of the newly released book Protecting Your Internet Identity: Are You Naked Online? and the founder of the S.A.F.E. Kids initiative - a classroom-based, digital safety program.

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