Do you know what your child is doing online?

It’s easy to say “trust your kids,” but the truth is, there is a lot more to parenting than trusting and hoping it all goes well.  Even honest children do stupid things.  Their brains have not fully developed.  A human’s frontal lobes don’t close fully until after they turn 21 to 25 years old.  Teenagers will make bad choices no matter how smart they are or how good they are.  With that in mind, here are some ways to keep tabs on what your child is doing.

Quality time together

The more time you spend with your kids, the more you’re going to know about them.  Instituting family dinner nights as many times during the week, as possible, opens communication in a relaxed environment.  Consider activities away from home to enhance family bonding.  You and your child will then get to know each other more, and the more you know, the closer you’ll be.  Your child is less likely to hide things from you if you have open communication.

School parents evenings

Any type of meetings at your child’s school, with teachers, clubs and so forth have, you should attend.  If your child can participate with you, they should go with you too.  Try and make it a fun night out instead of something to dread.

Monitor Their Online Activity

Use software to monitor your child’s online activity.  Knowing their search history can sometimes help you determine things that are bothering them.  If your child looks up information about sex abuse, drugs and so forth, you may want to talk to them about those topics.  This has to be handled delicately.  If your child feels you’ve been spying on them this can open up issues of trust, from their perspective.

Use Ratings for Online Games as a Guide

Maybe your child loves playing games online and that’s great. There are many benefits to gaming that will pay off later for them. However, there are also drawbacks.  You can avoid many of them by paying attention to the ratings and rankings of the games.

Look at Your Child’s Internet Search History

Your child can delete their search history but they cannot remove the history your router uses.  All you need to do is look at the logs kept and you can find out all the sites anyone in your home visited, using your IP address .

Use Parental Controls for All Internet Connected Devices

Most devices, like smartphones, offer the option to use parental controls.  Not only should you use them, but you should let your child know that you are using them.  There is never a reason to lie about searching their online usage or monitoring their whereabouts.  It’s your right as a parent.

Get to Know Your Child’s Friends

Knowing who your child hangs out with, is an excellent way to gauge how they’re likely to behave, when you aren’t around.  Other parent’s kids often reveal parts of themselves to other adults, rather than their own parents, that can give you some insight.  If your child’s friend does or says something that disturbs you, check up in a non-confrontational way.

Talk to your child

There is also nothing wrong with asking your child directly, about anything that concerns you.  If you read an article about something kids are doing that you aren’t happy with, bring it up and ask them what they think.

Join Them

If your child loves playing a particular game, learn to play it too.  If your child likes reading certain books, read them too.  That way, you put yourself in their shoes, which will help understand them better.

While you need to be aware of what your child is doing, it is also important to give them space,  Getting the balance right isn’t easy but you must allow them to be who they are, without judgement.  That way, they will be themselves around you and you can demonstrate the type of behaviour you wish them to display.  Regardless of your parenting style, demonstrating yourself as a positive, understanding role model, your child is more likely to confide any issues with you and less likely to hide them.

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