Bonding with your grandkids can take many different forms. As the children get older, grandparents can take a back seat, or be a source of reassurance, confidential communications, and words of wisdom.
Buck the stereotypes and instead of withdrawing, engage in a topic that may be more “flammable” with their parents – being smart and staying safe in the online world.
Dare I say, go a step further. Make sure that you or the parents are monitoring social media accounts and know about all the apps the kids are using. Many teenagers set up fake accounts so the parents won’t know or see what’s going on.
Kids are trusting. They tend to have a frame of mind that they already know the dangers of the online world and that grownups are “out of it” because we didn’t even have the Internet when we were young.
As adults, we appreciate the extent of the risks, and we owe it to our offspring to learn about how to best empower them to be safe.
Keeping your safety tips short but sweet is key when you want your grandchildren to stay engaged with you. Here are eight lessons to teach them to help protect them online.
Explain to your grandchildren what’s personal and what’s private. Things like their full name, address, and school might seem like harmless information, but it can allow someone to find them.
Innocent-looking things, like posting pictures that show a recognizable site, can expose details about their lives. Somebody could be following their routine and the places they regularly visit if it’s broadcast on social media.
Teach them not to post vacation photos while they are away from home. It is best to wait to post pictures after they get back.
Make social media accounts private and go through the security settings with your grandkids. Only allow people they know to follow them. It’s not good enough for your grandkid to accept a “friend of a friend” as a buddy they can trust.
Cyberbullying includes threats, rumors, impersonating another person, and posting unfavorable photos. Teach your grandchild there is zero-tolerance for this behavior, from them or anyone.
Make sure they know that if they are feeling bullied online, they need to report it to an adult immediately. If that adult does nothing, tell them to let you know what’s happening.
Using complex passwords that are unique for each account is a must. Educate your grandkids on what a secure password is, and that it should be stored in a secure app on their device.
It shouldn’t be memorized. It should be 12+ characters, with a mix of numbers, letters, and other characters. And don’t use any real words, like their name or a pet’s name.
Private texting should only be with people they know and trust. Tell them that if they start to feel uncomfortable or someone is asking a lot of personal questions, it’s time to tell an adult. They must NEVER agree to meet up with someone they met through a game or app in a private chat.
Depending upon the ages of your grandchild(ren), group texting should be discouraged. Bullying and mean behavior are accentuated in group threads.
Posting inappropriate remarks or photos of themselves or others exercising questionable judgment can be damaging to their reputation now or in the future. Emphasize to them that once something is online, it‘s out there for the world to see.
Offers for free stuff many times are a way to get people to click on malicious links that have malware or dangerous content. Explain this to your grandkids and teach them that it isn’t safe to click!
Ask your grandchild to allow you to follow them on social media platforms. If you get invited in, you will have the opportunity to have conversations about what is happening in their life, as well as to see what they are doing online.
Remember, these aren’t just smart rules for your grandkids; they are rules you should be following too.
How often do you talk to your grandkids about online safety? Are you monitoring any of their behaviors or do their parents do that? Do you have any other tips that you share with them? Please tell us in the comments below.