If you are thinking, “I need to protect my kids online, but I just don’t know where to start”, you are not alone. The vast array of devices and apps can make it seem like a daunting task. See why I do not set up parental controls FOR parents, but rather help empower them to do it. I think it helps parents to understand that there will be times that this process will be frustrating. It isn’t always easy and it requires some education and effort. I hope the following steps make it a little easier and help you get started with this important parenting responsibility:

  1. Join the Sensible Cyber Parenting group. It is a closed facebook group where you can get help and discuss issues with the tech experts and other parents in the group. Click here to join.
  2. Recognize the need to protect.
  3. Establish your family technology policies and enforce them.
  4. Prepare your kids’ minds to have the proper response to bad content.
  5. Take an inventory.
    • Make a quick list of every internet connected device in your home.
    • Start a sheet of paper for each of those devices.
    • On each sheet list the following:
      • Who has access to it?
      • Does it have access to an internet browser? (Devices with browsers)
      • Does it leave your home?
  6. Protect your whole network.
  7. Use built-in controls.
  8.  Add additional protection as needed.
    • Is it needed? There is no easy answer here. Consider the following:
      • Age of the child
      • What apps are allowed on the device?
      • Thoroughly investigate apps before you allow them.
      • App Information
      • Understand that if you block pornographic websites, pornographic images can still be accessed through an app like facebook, instagram. The images are coming from facebook.com in that case.
      • It can be harder to remove access to an app once it has been allowed/purchased.
      • How robust are the built-in controls?
      • Does the device leave the house? If so, your router settings won’t protect it.
      • Products like Circle  or Net Nanny offer added mobile protection and control options — think layers, remember.
    • Take advantage of trials before you purchase.
    • iOS Family Settings
    • Other products that you can read about here as well.
  9. Get Support
    • Providers of parental control products usually have good support.
    • The device manufacturers don’t have too much support, but they usually have decent support documentation on their websites.
  10. Be your child’s “friend”.
    • As mentioned in the family technology contract above, you want to be a “follower” or “friend” for any social media accounts that you allow your child to have.
  11. Begin when your kids are very young and start with very tight controls.
    • If you start young, it is a way of life.
    • If you start with tight restrictions, you can always loosen them.
    • Once an app or website has been allowed, taking it away is difficult.
  12. Finally, if you are a Christian parent: you are not alone in this battle. It is your responsibility as a parent to do everything you can to protect your kids with the resources that God has given you, but you also have a Helper who has absolute power to intervene where your efforts fail, so pray and ask Him to help you

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