As part of an ongoing series this week about online and mobile safety, Family Online Safety Institute CEO, Stephen Balkam, is here to provide tips to help keep your family safer online. In my recent interview Stephen talked about mobile safety, Facebook, and factors to consider if you’re thinking about giving your child a cell phone. Today he’s sharing how to monitor screen time and ensure safety when playing online games.
Tech Savvy Mama: Since winter break is coming up and kids are likely to be spending more time playing the new games they received for their gaming systems, what advice do you have for parents about monitoring screen time and ensuring that they play networked games with those that they know?
Stephen Balkam:In our house we keep our computer in a public place. I can’t stress how important it is for kids to understand early on that the Internet is a public place. That messaging should be supported in the home as well. I would also try to encourage parents to set limits or ratios for how long their kids can be “connected” vs. engaging in another activity they enjoy. If parents position alternate activities in a positive way, then children won’t feel like you are taking away screen time.
It’s also incredibly important for parents to read the terms and agreements and understand how the games work. That way, parents understand how their kids are connecting and can effectively use any parental controls available. In September FOSI released a study conducted by Hart with the great news that most parents are aware of parental controls. But, the research also suggested that online gaming was an area where few parents were implementing controls. Finally, this is another time where keeping digital tools in an open space in your house is useful. This way parents can see who their kids are connecting with and ask them about how they know the person.
This is part of a series of posts from my interview with Stephen Balkam, CEO of FOSI. Additional topics this week include: