Kids can get around just about anything. Let’s face it, technology comes naturally to the younger generation, they’re quicker, smarter and more creative than their parents.
That’s why WebSafety talked to professional hacker Chelsea Brown (Information Security Consultant CompTIA Security+ Certified) to bring you the best tips to keep your kids from hacking your privacy and protection plan.
- A phone contract is the worst invention.
This is the opposite of what most tech professionals tell parents.
“A phone contract is the worst invention,” says Brown. “They don’t have appropriate consequences. It causes parents to be super reactive, where they just take away the device and don’t trust the child again.”
If you’re going to have a contract, Brown suggests breaking up the contract terms line by line, so the rules and consequences are black and white.
“For example, your phone goes in this box and this location to be charged. If you don’t do this, you lose this specific privilege.”
Then she says recognize that your child WILL make mistakes and the crucial piece to the contract is redemption.
“Create a plan for the child to establish a pattern of responsibility, so you can give them back their device or whatever privilege you’ve taken away. I call this a ‘Tech Plan of Action.’”
- Learn everything possible about the tech you already have.
“Focus on learning about the tech that’s already in your home,” says Brown.
Forget reading all of those reviews about the new tech that you want to buy. Become the expert on what is in your home, because that is what your kid is using.
Brown suggests this is especially key for parents with kids who are young.
“You need to have a base foundation,” says Brown. “Eventually your kids are going to know more than you, the dangerous part is if they come to that at the age of nine or ten.”
There are also parental controls on most devices in your home. They may not cover every issue, but Brown says it’s a great place to start. Get to know them.
- Never trust technology to do its job.
Yes, we just told you to know your tech, but don’t trust it completely, because your kids are going to find a hole in it, according to Brown.
“Expect the technology to fail. I’m not perfect,” says Brown. “I can’t design a perfect product. So what mistakes are you going to expect them to make?”
Brown says this is why your devices and operating systems are constantly needing updating. Always download the latest version, but don’t expect it to fix every problem.
“Imagine someone drilling a hole through the Hoover Dam and putting a bandaid over it.”
- Don’t be a spy. Do monitoring “audits.”
“Kids don’t want their parents to be spies,” says Brown. “But they don’t understand, like you and I do, how permanent these online journals are.”
Kids need someone to monitor their social media accounts and what they are posting and sharing online. Because Brown says you can’t fully trust your technology to protect and solve every privacy problem, she recommends layering your parental controls based on your needs.
“We set these [parental controls] up to catch what we don’t want to get in. But it’s a safety net, not a brick wall.”
Just like we recommend when using WebSafety, Brown says these parental control apps should start a conversation with your child, not be spyware.
- Trust your kid… but anticipate them going behind your back.
Having the conversation with your children about when, how and, especially, WHY you are putting up parental controls and setting limits on their electronic devices, is key to establishing a foundation of trust.
Brown adds that because kids often outsmart their parents with tech knowledge, you can use that to your advantage and put them in a place of authority.
“Tell your kid that their job is to be the mini adult,” says Brown. Hold them accountable for their actions, as well as your own, so that the entire family is responsible for their screen time choices.
BUT, she adds, and it is a strong warning, kids will push boundaries and go to great lengths to do what is forbidden on their devices, including using a friend’s phone. Brown says parents must be straightforward with their child, let them know they know about the “work arounds” and they won’t stand for a child going behind their back.
“Whatever I find on here, I’m assuming you did it,” Brown warns teens who lend out their phones to help friends. “I’m assuming that’s your account. Do you realize that if you lend your phone out to someone, they could do anything? Be careful who you give your device to.”
- Don’t overreact.
When your kids cross the line, and it’s likely they will, keep your cool.
“When they’ve done something wrong and you freak out, go back to your child and tell them, ‘I got down from planet Pluto, I’m back down on Earth,’” says Brown. “Remember they are adults in training. They don’t know it all, so calmly guide them. Instead of taking them by the hand, put your arm around them.”
Brown reminds parents to let down your guard on occasion, remind your children that no one is perfect.
“Children find great comfort in that. If we pretend to be a person who has it all figured out, they see right through that.”
- “Technology should make parenting easier, not harder.”
Join Brown and other tech professionals on the Digital Parents by WebSafety Facebook Group for more conversations about how technology can make parenting easier for you and your family.