online predatorsFrom smartphones to social media to anonymous instant messaging apps, there are endless ways for people to connect and communicate with others using technology. However, the ability to connect with nearly anyone comes with a lot of safety concerns, especially for parents with young, impressionable children, as the possibility of online predators comes into the picture. While we are all aware that the Internet is not always the safest place for children, we might not be as aware as to how exactly we can help keep them safe. Keep reading for three ways you can help protect your children from online predators.

Familiarize yourself with the apps your children use

You don’t necessarily have to monitor every single conversation your children are having with their friends online or through text message, but in this day and age, technology is constantly getting smarter, which means new apps are always emerging. As such, one of the most important things parents can do is to know which apps their children are using and exactly how these apps work. This way, you are aware of the risks they hold and can have better judgment on which apps you’ll allow your children to use and which ones you don’t want them using. Two popular apps among teens that parents may want to be aware of include Snapchat, a photo and video sharing app that “deletes” photos, text and videos after the receiver has seen them, and Kik, an anonymous messaging app. You can learn more about both of these apps as well as other social media apps and platforms on our parental controls blog.

Use privacy settings and parental control features

Many computer operating systems and other software like Windows have their own built-in parental control and children safety tools, which may be great ways for parents to help keep their kids safe online, as some built-in tools are better than others. There are also ways you can enhance these tools by using parental control software. These services can help you monitor social media activity, put time restrictions on specific online applications and even keep an eye on how your children use their devices outside of your home with mobile-friendly parental controls for smartphones and tablets. The same way Internet security software helps to keep your computers and other devices safe from viruses and hackers, parental control software can be an extra aid in keeping your children safe from online predators.

Keep an open line of communication

You can take as many technological safeguards as you want to help keep your children safe, but equally as important is speaking with them directly. Warn them about the dangers of online predators, help them understand what is and isn’t considered appropriate behavior online and make sure they know they can talk to you if they ever feel in danger. You should take the time to sit down with your children and ask them to explain certain apps or websites they use to you. Be sure to ask them how they use the app and explain that there are some things they should never post online. Finally, discuss the importance of privacy settings (and how to use them) on social media apps like Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. It should be noted that these conversations are not a one-time thing. In fact, you’ll want to make sure you check in with your child every now and then — maybe even mark it on the family calendar — since the way they interact with their peers and others through these apps will likely change as they get older.

Follow our parental control blog for more tips to help protect your children on the Internet.