As our world delves deeper into all things digital, we as parents have a duty to be more diligent about what our kids are doing and seeing online. While we can’t be there watching their every move—and I don’t think we should!–I do think it’s so important to be proactive in teaching our kids what to look out for, while taking every precaution to keep them safe and kind online.

boy on his ipadwoman working from home

Establishing Boundaries

I don’t think that we should be stalking our kids online, but I do think we should give them the tools to be social media smart while on their phones and computers. The key is communication. Learn what apps your kids are using and decide together which ones feel appropriate for where they’re at in life. Talk to them about why they want to be on those apps—is it to connect with friends? Learn more about a hobby? Meet new people? These questions can help guide you toward how your kid acts online.

girl on her ipadwoman in her pantry on her laptop

Set the Standard

Our kids learn from us whether we realize it or not. The language we use, how we react to problems or situations, they absorb it all for reference in their own lives. Let’s make sure we’re setting the right standard so that when they’re online, they’re the ones calling out the cyberbullies instead of the ones cyberbullying. Practice healthy communication skills with them, walk through certain situations to gauge how they would handle them, and give them tips and tools to improve. In the dance world, we come across a lot of competitive people, and I always tell my kids to practice kindness first, not to take things personally, and always stand by the little guy.

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Consider Apps

Sometimes things call for stronger enforcement. There are a number of parental control apps out there that can help limit and monitor your kids online. Net Nanny lets parents track screen time, block websites, and filter certain content. OurPact is another great app that lets you create a schedule to block digital use while kids are at school or doing homework. It can even block incoming texts when your kid is in school or completing an assignment. This app also has a locator feature to physically track your family members’ locations. 

girl sitting in bed using ipad smiling boy sitting on stairs

Keep a Checklist

One tool we use and love is a social media checklist, a mental or physical list of things to ask themselves before they use their apps. Is your homework complete? Are you going online for a purpose? How are you feeling today? If it’s bad, it’s probably not the best time to be on social media. These simple questions can really help your kids take ownership of how they’re acting online and give you peace of mind that your children are setting a good example.

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