5 internet safety tips for kids

There's no hiding from the fact that I live in a house with two technophile boys. My husband works in IT for Exxon Mobil and my three year old son can out-smart me on the iPad any day of the week. I'm the lone computer-challenged ranger in the Fullwood home, which is probably a good thing considering how vital technology skills are in 2016. At least two out of three of us can handle any technical difficulties we might have (or I might cause).

Bear will be four next month and that's not the only thing blowing my mind- how quickly he's learned to navigate Google is shocking to me. I'm sure you other mamas can relate; kids these days come out of the womb ready to swipe their little fingers and charge random apps to our credit cards. It's amazing that they can figure out how to use a search engine at such a young age, and equally as alarming as it is impressive. A few weeks ago, I handed my phone to Bear so he could watch Paw Patrol on YouTube, only to have the phone handed back to me with a Kanye West video blaring explicit lyrics not at all appropriate for a toddler. The situation scared me and I realized for the first time that this little boy whom I try so hard to protect and shield from anything that could break his innocence can be exposed to horrible, indecent things at any given time on our tablet, computer, and cell phones. As parents, we've got to take matters into our own hands to prevent the potential problems our tech savvy children can easily create. Because we don't have enough to do with carpool line and packing lunches and soccer games, right?

When it comes to internet safety for our children, there are lots of things we can do to help protect them from the big bad world wide web. Zach and I have taken five simple approaches to internet safety for Bear that I'll share below, and I'd love to hear some of your tips and tricks in the comments, too!

1. Limit time on tablets/phones/computers. I wish I could boast that we're parents of the year who only let our child use the iPad for twelve minutes a day but sadly, that isn't the case. There are days Bear probably spends a total of two hours on a computer of some sort between watching YouTube videos and playing on educational apps. We try, however, to not let him stay on the computer for more than thirty minutes at a time (and usually just twice a day). We monitor this by setting an alarm the minute Bear sits down at the computer- he knows that when the alarm goes off, it's time to get up and play or do something productive.

2. Set secure passwords. Bear once hacked into my email and deleted over 50 important work emails; auto-saving my password was pretty stupid, looking back. Try not to save passwords and even though the little prompt box that pops up every time you want to check your bank statement can get annoying, it's the safest route. To keep your important stuff secure and away from little eyes, choose passwords that contain letters, numbers, and punctuation.

3. Download Sophos. Sophos Home is a security network that blocks viruses, malware, and all that other bad stuff (pornography, gambling, etc.) from your electronic devices. Sophos has a content filter that keeps kids safe, and they've included a Tool Kit on the website full of great tips and tricks for parents. Downloading the software is completely free and set-up takes less than 60 seconds, so why not give it a try?! Your mama mind will rest at ease much better knowing that your little ones aren't getting access to Girls Gone Wild videos and the FarmersOnly dating app. Bear is obsessed with Legos and he's only recently learned how to type out the word "Lego" to search for those annoying YouTube videos of kids opening boxes and putting 8 million pieces together. One wrong letter and he's typed in "Legs", which could lead to all kinds of unwanted explicit content. I mean, maybe it'll be wanted when he's sixteen but for now, the child just wants to look at blocks. Thanks to Sophos, he can.

4. Keep devices in a special, public place. Bear knows that when he uses the iPad, he's going to be sitting on the couch in the living room. This way, I can easily monitor what he does (and bonus: we never lose the iPad!). Letting kids take phones and tablets into their own bedrooms creates unhealthy habits; in our house, the bedroom is for books. At least in Bear's mind. These pictures were a rare exception to the rule and my little man was in hog-er, bear-heaven.

5. Check wifi settings regularly. Today's wireless devices sometimes automatically connect to other wifi networks in the area, which can lead to big problems if the public wifi isn't safe. The open nature of these networks can allow for snooping, the network could be full of compromised machines, or the hotspot itself could even be malicious. When you're out and about and your kids are on phones or tablets, make sure to keep tabs on the wifi for everyone's protection.

photos by Diamond Oak Photography

Click here to download Sophos Home and enter to win a huge sweepstakes (with three winners)! From now until November 3rd, anyone who downloads Sophos Home will be entered to win a Macbook and two Series 2 Apple Watches. Winners will be chosen and contacted via email on November 7th. Good luck to all my sweet Hello Honey readers!

Thank you for taking the time to read this post! As parents, protecting the precious innocence of our little ones is our number one priority. That and surviving potty training. If you can master those two things, you deserve some kind of major award. Or at least a kid-free trip to Starbucks.
xo, Britt

*This post is sponsored by Sophos but all opinions are my own.