Back to School: 5 tips for getting your digital house in order

calendarI am not ready!  As you can see from my lack of posting I have enjoyed my summer. Although I have appreciated these quiet, relaxing summer days, I have dug a bit of hole for myself. This past week has been a mad scramble to turn in forms, dig through school supply bins and brave a trip to the mall. I am not only playing catch up in the real world, I have been a bit neglectful in the digital world as well. If you are like me and enjoyed summer perhaps a little too much, here a few tips for getting your digital house in order.


Create  or Update Family Media Rules/Device Contracts

One of the best digital parenting tools is to create a family media agreement and/or a device contract depending on the age of your child. If you have one already, now is the perfect time to review it. These contracts provide an opportunity for parents and kids to talk about expectations and values around online behavior.

Check in

After updating their contract, take a tour. Depending on your family’s contract, they can show you around or you can check it out yourself.  Either way, it is important that they are beside you so you can ask questions. This is not about getting them in trouble but creating an opportunity to guide them and talk about sharing smart and staying safe online.

Set new passwords

Parents should talk with kids and teens about the importance of setting and periodically changing passwords on their apps and devices. Kids and teens should not share passwords but some do. As the move on to a new grade, friendships may ebb and flow. So, the rule is new grade – new password.

Review Privacy Settings

Most kids are looking to share with their friends and classmates online not the entire world. Most apps have some privacy protections. They should make sure their privacy settings match their perception and when at all possible set their posts and profiles to private.

Update those apps

Kids should not ignore those updates for apps or their operating system on their devices. Many of these updates contain important security patches that will protect their device from viruses. While updating, remind them that malicious applications are often published outside of trusted app stores so kids should only download apps from legitimate sources.


For more back to school tips, check out…

Building a Digital Dialogue and Relationship with Our Kids – by a Platform for Good
Back-To-School Online Safety Tips for Families – by CSID
Family Tip Sheets – by CommonSense Media

Ask Kids Privacy: Question about Privacy on Kik

kik logo

Kik is a messenger service app that is popular with teens and Ask KidsPrivacy has received questions from readers about monitoring, unwanted messages and accessing kik. This week, I received a question about kik and privacy. Kik does not have private and public accounts but teens can protect their privacy by managing their contacts and not sharing their username. Below are some helpful tips on privacy and kik. If you have other questions, kik has an excellent Parent Guide and Help Center.


Q: How do you put your kik on private so that only people you want can see it ?

A: Kik does not have private and public accounts like Instagram or Twitter. On kik, anyone who knows your username can send you a message and see your profile. In order to keep your profile private, kik recommends users protect their privacy by:

  • Choosing a username that’s hard to guess. Do not use the same username for all your social network accounts. Your kik username should be different from your instagram, twitter or  tumblr accounts. Kik also recommends choosing a name that incorporates letters, numbers and special characters.
  • Keeping your username name private by not sharing it publicly. Do not post #kikme messages on public networks such as twitter or instagram. Once you share your username, anyone who sees it can send you a message. Only share your username with friends and family and ask them not to share your username.
  • Using the Block and New People features to manage messages. You should turn on “Ignore New People” under Notifications. This will send all new contacts to a separate list that can be deleted. You can also block a contact which will hide all messages from this person.  For more information on these features, check out How can I keep my Kik account private? from the Kik Help Center.

Remember, kik has no logout button. If someone has access to your phone, they can go in to your kik account. You should always set a password on your phone. You can also force a logout by resetting kik but resetting will not only log you out it will wipe your conversation history deleting all your messages. For more helpful tips, check out a platformforgood’s safety tips for kik.

What Parents need to know about Clash of Clans

clash clan iconMy 10-year-old has been begging to join Clash of Clans. I knew a lot of his friends were playing the game but I had not really looked at it. I told him one rainy day we would sit down together and check out Clash of Clans. A few weeks ago, as the rain drops fell, I sat down for a tour and he wrote a review. So, first my son will tell you about the game and why kids loves it then I will fill you in on what you need to know.

From my 10-year-old:

Clash of clans is game where you build a base, train troops and attack others bases, or play single player. If you win, you get trophies, which moves you up in leagues. What league you are in is based on how many trophies you have. You lose trophies if you lose an attack or someone attacks you when you’re not playing. The leagues are bronze, silver, gold, masters and champions.

In order to join a clan, you need to get 40,000 in gold to rebuild your clan castle. You get gold by building or updating your gold mines. When you finish your clan castle you join a clan so members of your clan can donate you troops. You can also go into a clan war which is where you battle other clans.

Kids like clash of clans because you get to build a base and attack other clans and people. I like building a base because you can make just the way you like it and if you start to not like your base  you can change any time you like. Kids also like interacting with people in your clan and on the global chat because you can work together to make a good clan and win clan wars and everyone loves attacking because it is just fun.”

 

I agree Clash of the Clans is a fun game. Kids get to create a village as well as plan battle strategies. The rating on iTunes is 9+ due to cartoon violence. The game does collect some personal information so it requires users to be at least 13 years old. We had to initially connect using my Google+ profile. After logging in, we were able to go in to settings and disconnect these accounts so my friends were not bombarded with Clash of Clan updates. Continue reading