Summer means greater internet risk for many kids. Let’s talk about three areas of life that are different during the summer which contribute to kids potentially making riskier online choices.
New Places Create Greater Summer Internet Risks
In Michigan, between Memorial and Labor Day, many families enjoy time at the lake or some other warm-weather retreat. And, although sleepovers happen throughout the year, they tend to occur more frequently during summer vacation with friends and relatives (like grandparents).
This year, when you head to the cottage, or kids spend more time at a certain friend’s house, or wherever you go, be sure to take an inventory of the ways in which your family can access the internet. Then, guard those doorways, in the same way you filter and monitor at home.
We suggest the following three layers of protection to mitigate summer internet risk:
- Guard the location – where kids use technology often dictates how they use technology. Bedrooms, bathrooms, and grandma’s house all increase digital risk.
- Guard the wireless router – remember, you are responsible for every click on your home’s router! When was the last time you thought about your router? Try Gryphon – it’s great.
- Guard the device – when the iPhone or Android isn’t using your WiFi, is it adequately controlled while using data? iPhones come with Screen Time parental controls and Android devices come with Family Link. Both of these solutions are free! The Gryphon router mentioned above also has controls that can be used over a data plan when not connected to home.
New Patterns Create Greater Summer Internet Risks
During the school year, weekday bedtimes are regular and predictable. But, summer bedtimes are typically looser – kids are allowed to stay up, enjoying sunshine later into the evening, bonfires with friends, and “just one more swim” or “one more time” around the block on a bike.
At Protect Young Eyes, we focus heavily on controlling internet access at night. In our experience, internet temptations are magnified at night. In quiet, dark moments, kids are more apt to click, share or do things they might not do during the day. Darkness rules the web at night because whether you’re 14 or 40, you can rationalize anything online at midnight.
This means you might want to shut off internet access after a certain time, just leaving talk and text available for emergencies. Blocking internet and social media access at night might be the most significant step you can take to decrease summer internet risk this year.
Special Consideration for Teen Drivers: for your teenager, this might also mean driving more at night and with larger groups of friends, thereby increasing the in-car risk of using technology. If your child has an iPhone, iOS 11 now comes with a handy Do Not Disturb While Driving feature that can be locked in Restrictions.
You can learn how to enable this feature through Apple’s support article here: How to Use Do Not Disturb While Driving.
You can also LOCK in this feature through the iPhone’s Restrictions, which is really handy, by following the sequence of steps below:
Settings -> General -> Restrictions -> 4-digit Code -> Do Not Disturb While Driving -> Don’t Allow Changes
For Android users, we did a bit of research and the one that looks the most promising is from True Motion (but we haven’t tested it, so please let us know if you like it or if you have another suggestion).
New People Create Greater Summer Internet Risk
Just due to having more time, kids hang out with new people during the summer and in larger groups. Parents might have to be more vigilant about who their kid is hanging out with, and whether or not the situation increases the risk of using the internet poorly.
An important question to ask yourself often is, “Do I know enough about the internet rules that exist in each home where my kid is spending time this summer?”
Parents often ask me, “Chris, how do I talk to a family that I don’t know very well about their internet rules?” And, my response is underwhelming – “I don’t know! Pray, practice, bake some banana bread, smile, and be kind.” Yea, that’s all I’ve got. I just know that it’s important to keep the judgment low (don’t make it seem like you’re the queen or king of internet safety) and just be honest about the things that worry you.
PYE is creating a pretty special app just for parents and caring adults. Its aim is to create a unique internet safety plan for each family. We can’t wait to show you in July! Would you like to know when it’s ready? Just follow this link and leave your email address.
I love life. Seriously! Each. Day. A. Gift. Former CPA, business advisor, youth pastor, development director. Manage marketing efforts for Covenant Eyes and CEO of PYE. God shares wild ideas with me about life while I run. I have a relentless drive to help families use technology well.