Instead of spending your time as parents spying on what your children are doing online, consider a different alternative. Have a productive, open conversation with your kids where you lay down the rules, but take their feedback to heart as well. Your life—and theirs—will be much either if you both know what you can expect from each other. Honesty is an important part of any dialogue between parents and children, but it’s especially important when you are trusting them with something as huge as their online activity so make sure they know they can also trust you.Here are some of the best ways you can avoid using spying apps to keep tabs on your kids as well as some reasons why you’ll want to.
Keep Your Computer In An Open Space
One of the best ways to monitor what your child is doing on the Internet is to keep your computer out in the open. This tends to create a setting where your child doesn’t feel comfortable trying to be sneaky about anything anyway—considering you or another family member could pass by at any time—so they’re more likely to stick to the websites they’re supposed to be using.
On top of that, you can pop by at any time to see what your kids are up to. Why spend your time using spying apps when you can just walk behind the computer and check things out for yourself? By only allowing computer use in open spaces, you are making sure your children know that their time online isn’t totally private.
Get Homework Done First
Children can get very wrapped up in the web. With games, music videos and plenty of other things to entertain them, it’s very hard to get them to do anything productive if they have free reign of everything (kid-approved, anyway) that the Internet has to offer. Rather than restricting their computer usage to online homework-related or educational websites, create a rule that all homework must be finished before they can use the computer (or phone or tablet) for fun.
Don’t just take their word for it either. Check their homework to make sure they’re not rushing through to get online. It’s important that they still value their time spent studying and aren’t focusing on the future instead of keeping their mind on the work.
Another great way to avoid the need to use spying apps is to restrict usage. After discussing the situation with your kids, come up with a mutual decision about how much time is appropriate for them to spend online. You can set different time limits for homework and fun, or set limits depending on the device that’s being used. On top of time restrictions themselves, you should also discuss with you children which times of day are appropriate for device or computer usage. If you don’t want them trying to spend time online in the mornings before school, make that clear. If you want them to cut the screens by a certain time each night so their minds can wind down before bed, make that clear as well.
While you’re talking about time, discuss which types of websites are appropriate for them to visit as well. If there are specific sites, especially social networks, that you don’t want them using, make it clear before they start using the Internet.
Keep An Open Dialogue
Encourage your kids to keep an open dialogue—before, during and after time spent online. Let them know that they can come to you with anything they encounter online, especially if they come across things that make them uncomfortable or concerned that they want to talk about with you. This can range from inappropriate content to bullying by peers on social networks. No matter what it is, make sure your child knows they won’t be in trouble for coming to you with anything they come across online.
In addition, make sure that they know that it isn’t okay to talk to people they don’t know online and that they should never agree to meet anyone in person should someone attempt to. While this is something that seems obvious, many children aren’t aware of the dangers they face.
Use Parental Controls
Try using parental controls—they’re not the same as spying apps. Even though they do filter what your child is able to view online, they also make it harder for them to sneak around the Internet and view things that you don’t want them looking at. While you can expressly tell them which websites you want them to avoid, they may ignore your wishes so this is a good way to ensure that they never reach the websites that you don’t want them using.
On top of that, you can block unsafe websites that may cause viruses or reveal inappropriate content to kids—even if it’s an ad on the side of the page. Parental controls provide an added peace of mind for parents whose children are roaming the Internet.
What’s On The Internet Stays On The Internet
Because the Internet is such a vast network, it’s important to really explain to kids how it works. Depending on their age, it’s easy for them to hop online and think that the things they’re seeing are online available to them. They should know that any private information they post online could be accessed by people from all over the world; make sure they are aware that it’s bad to post addresses (home or school), phone numbers or other personal information that can allow strangers to locate or identify them in person.
They should also know that any photos they post online are there forever—even if they’re supposedly deleted. This is especially important for teens, but can apply to youngsters too.
Benefits of Not Using Spying Apps
Why should you avoid using spying apps? Because there’s no point! First of all, you’ll definitely want to build that trust with your children instead of showing them that it’s okay to spy on others. But on top of that, there are other benefits to avoiding these apps. Spying on your children can be incredibly time consuming. With emails, social network profiles, instant messaging software, texts and browser histories, there is a lot to go through. On top of that, when cell phones and tablets are thrown into the mix, there is even more to go through, like texts and call logs.
Teach your children to act responsibly, set rules and trust them until they give you a reason not to. Just make sure your rules are comprehensive enough to ensure children understand right from wrong. Technology is a major part of modern society—not just personally, but also academically and professionally—so using these devices can provide useful skills. We don’t want to teach our kids to be ashamed of what they’re doing online, but to teach them to be responsible enough to navigate the web for themselves.