I love technology. I am an early adopter of anything techie that I can get my hands on. I just am fascinated and love it. I see the value of it and I also see the danger. My kids have iPads and use our old iPhones often. I am not ashamed of that. They are not babysitters in our house, they are a learning tool, a reward and sometimes just entertainment and background noise. Our home is never quiet and I like it that way. Often you will find my kids doing activities, while watching a show they enjoy and that is okay by me.
As a technology responsible parent, I set up icloud accounts for my kids, I have their passwords, we are on family sharing so that I have to approve their app choices and I have set the parental controls as well. I feel like a pretty on it mom, but that does not mean that revisiting our internet safety and security protocols should be put on a backburner.
That has never been more apparent than the last couple weeks. Recently, I learned that I was not as savvy as I thought and that the evolution of technology beat me for a moment. I was not checking my kids devices as often as I should have. I missed an update, I missed a change to the parental controls that I should have caught and my son was available to access content that although not dangerous, was not something I personally am ok with.
That is the point that I put together a plan and prepared our family for some changes to our technology use and internet safety. I purchased CUJO which is smart firewall that is designed to protect our network from malicious sites, viruses and hackers.
I started our safety talk by having the kids help me set up the CUJO. I thought that getting them involved in the fun new tech device set up would really help them stay focused on why mom and dad were being so serious about keeping them safe online.
The CUJO was easy to set up, just a few cables to plug in and an app to download and we were in business. We set the CUJO up by connecting it to our modem and a power source. It was really simple. I told my kids that I chose CUJO as our family’s security device because it would guard all our devices, has parental controls and is super fast!
The app download is necessary to set up CUJO but it is a free app, does not take up a ton of space and makes monitoring your home network security a breeze. You can opt in for notifications and check each of your devices and any threats that may have tried to attack your network. As a parent the parental controls are amazing and make keeping my kids safe online a breeze. I can set time limits, I can pause the internet for their device, I can look at reports of their usage and when they get older I can monitor their social media too!
- What is Internet Safety & Security?: My kids are 4 and 7, so our discussions at this age needed to be age appropriate. I explained that we have really cool stuff like our iPads and iPhones, but that we need to keep those items safe so we can have them for a long time. We discussed how the internet and app stores can have really bad viruses and people trying to break our devices and steal all our photos, videos and apps. I told them that it is my job to monitor their devices and that CUJO will help keep our devices safe too.
- Why Parental Controls?: My kids often ask me why I need to check their devices all the time and why I have to approve the apps they download. I explain to them that there are things online that are not ok for kids to view or read or watch and that as a parent, I am keeping them safe. I let them know that if they want to watch something that they are blocked from on their devices, that I will watch it first and decide if it is ok to allow but that in our family we communicate and we do not hide anything so it is ok for them to ask me, even if they are afraid I will get mad. I will never get mad, I just want them to be safe.
- Why a Technology Schedule?: In our house we instituted a technology schedule and reward system. My kids are allowed to have their devices each day after school for 1 hour as long as they are in the same room with me, they have done well at school, homework is done and the living room and their bedrooms are picked up. This allows me to monitor what they are doing or watching on their devices as well as sets clear time boundaries and reward expectations for use. My kids can earn more time in our house for various things and although my daughter doesn’t currently care much about the extra time, my son often chooses to take it in the car when we are driving to and from school.