Yes, even hackers care what their children do online. As for those who are immersed in the technology industry, their caution concerning the online activities of their children makes sense as well; as people highly invested in tech, they know exactly what lurks on the internet.

Yet not all safety suggestions fit every age group. The smartphone or tablet you hand your toddler will need different precautions than the one your teenager owns. With that in mind, I have segregated my advice into three different age group strategies, though there is definitely parts you can apply to any age.

Tech Safety for 0-6 years old

In theory, handing your young child the tablet with Dora the Explorer playing on it isn’t a whole lot different than them sitting in front of the TV. Except for a key difference; your baby can now access the internet.

So if you don’t want your child rummaging through your text messages or making random calls, you’ll need to learn how to childproof your smart device.

In a few simple steps you can lock your child out from all your other apps and still keep them entertained with a digital pacifier.

However, along those lines, make sure even though your child plays with your device it is not their device. It is funny to joke with friends that your iPad is really your 5 year old’s iPad, but when the child believes it, it gets less charming.

To avoid fights over how much device time they may receive, be very clear on who the device actually belongs to. Your possession, your rules. If they cannot adhere to these rules, they don't use the device.

Tech Safety for 7-12

According to a recent study, age 10 is the average for children to receive their first smart device. This was tracked along with a troubling rise in children who have private laptops and tablets that they use in the privacy of their bedrooms.

Which brings me to my next bit of advice: centralize device usage in your home. Whether it is computers, game consoles, or devices, your family should limit the usage of these devices to shared family areas.

This will not only allow you to take a quick glance and assess what your children are up to but also:

  • Increase opportunities to spend time together as a family.
  • Improve sleep when the bedroom is no longer an entertainment hub.
  • Create a greater sense of behavior awareness of all using devices.

I would also recommend parents follow this rule. The benefits also apply to parents and children are less likely to balk at the device restriction if you are also held to the same standard.

As for shared devices, like family computers, there are several things you can do to ensure the safety of your children. In addition to creating different user accounts for your children, you can enable family settings to monitor your children’s online activities. Also, be sure that you set your children’s accounts up without admin privileges; that way they won’t be able to accidentally install a virus onto your computer by innocently downloading something.

Tech Safety for 13-17

Teenagers and tech can be a hair-raising subject as they move from childhood to adolescence and need to be given more freedom. The worse thing you could possibly do as a parent is to try and force the same restricting behaviors on a teen that a young child could expect. This leaves them ready to break free at 18 (if they wait that long) and unprepared for the challenges they will face.

Instead, much of the tech safety for this age group comes in the form of family communication. Talk about:

Depending on your own family’s dynamic you may have more to discuss, but those are the basics that will be necessary for you to cover with your teen.

One way to ease into phone usage is to start your young teen with a basic phone. Once they start attending events and overnighters, having a phone on hand is good for your peace of mind as well as convenient for them. But they don’t need a smart device for texting and calling. You can make it clear that this is the start of responsibility and if your teen conducts himself/herself well with a “dumb” phone, you will upgrade them in a year or so.

Technology may present new challenges for parents, but with some work and communication, you should be able to prepare your children for whatever they may run into.

Author's Bio: 

Tyler enjoys going to the mountains near his home in Draper, Utah to connect with his wife and children through camping, hiking, and quality time together. When he isn’t rebooting in the outdoors, he shares his fatherly experiences with the world through writing and creative designs. Tyler shares the ups and downs of family life and the solutions he’s found through lengthy research and involvement in the industry and his own experiences to help parents everywhere. Follow Tyler on: Twitter | LinkedIn