I was talking with a friend recently about kids, smartphones and social media. The conversation was mostly focused on despite what they may think, kids are often not mature enough to understand, accept and handle a lot of the responsibilities that can come along with the territory of growing up in the digital age. Something I regularly do in my home is a digital cleanse of kids electronics.
Since it almost feels as though our kids are inundated daily with new forms of social media and types of electronics, it is more important than ever to ensure that they are using social media appropriately and safely. As a parent it might even feel overwhelming to try and keep up with.
Now that more and more kids are getting smartphones and access to social media at a younger age than ever before, I want to try to help alleviate some of the issues and problems that could arise by giving you 6 simple ways to do a digital cleanse of kids electronics.
What is a digital cleanse?
A digital cleanse is when you go through your smartphone and social media accounts and delete any unused apps, old text messages, emails and photos, while also cleaning up your follower list.
One of the biggest suggestions I always give is to make sure that you are doing regular digital cleanses of your kids smartphones and electronics.
Something I have gotten in the habit of doing is sitting down with my teenage son every month to do a digital cleanse together. I make sure we do it together in case I come across things that I can use right then and there to teach him what is and what is not appropriate.
It is so important that as parents we keep the lines of communication constantly open, even the digital ones.
Our kids need to understand that once they leave a digital footprint, unlike a real footprint, the digital one can’t be erased no matter how hard you try.
6 Simple Ways To Do A Digital Cleanse:
1. Check the privacy settings
I highly recommend turning the location off on your kids smartphone or tablet.
This helps lessen the chances of people being able to track down and locate your child.
2. Look through your kids text messages and emails.
Yes, I said it, now get comfy and read them.
Make sure if there are text messages with only phone numbers and not a contact name, that you ask your child who that person is they are communicating with.
Look to see that your child is engaging in appropriate communications with others.
Are you comfortable with and approve of the people that they are communicating with? Do not be afraid to block someone who you do not want your child in communication with.
3. Visit your kids Instagram/Snapchat/Facebook accounts.
I recommend that the accounts be set to private instead of public. This is very important so that not just anyone can see your kids personal photos, posts and message them.
Go through their friends list on these platforms and see exactly who they are “friends” with.
It is definitely a scary thing to see some kids on Instagram who are concerned with getting as many people as they can (that they don’t actually know) to be their “friend” and like their posts. Many times they don’t even know the people they are approving to be their “friend” on Instagram in real life.
4. Don’t forget to search Instagram Direct Messages (DMs)
Instagram has a direct message feature (in case you were not aware), and a lot of communication, especially for kids/teens goes on there.
When you are doing your digital cleanse, also search through the Instagram direct messages. Sometimes kids think that is a more private way to communicate or send things to one another.
5. Review the apps your kids download to their smartphones and devices.
Some of these apps have settings that you may need to adjust, especially for safety reasons. I found some interesting and important information about a popular app with kids, Musical.ly. That app sounds harmless, since it’s fun for kids to create and share short videos, just like TikTok, but there are potential dangers parents need to be aware of.
“Even with a private Musical.ly account, you can still watch any other musicals and follow others with public accounts. As far as explicit content on Musical.ly – if you look for it, you will find it.”
6. Explore the camera roll on kids smartphones and electronic devices.
Check to see that the photos and videos they are taking, sending and have stored on their phone are appropriate.
I have definitely watched kids/teens taking photos and videos of other kids/teens without their knowledge and sharing or posting them on social media.
Don’t wait to have the discussion with your kids that if they share a photo or video that is considered inappropriate (even if they weren’t the one who took the photo or video), they are just as responsible as the person who originally took it.
How do I put parental controls on devices?
With all of this information to help try and keep your kids safe online, you are probably now wondering how do you put parental controls on devices.
- There is a free app that I’ve used since my son got a smartphone years ago, which I love, called Our Pact. Our Pact allows you to set and control the internet, screen time and app usage on another smartphone directly from your own smartphone. You can even create a custom schedule to help your child manage their screen time. There is also capability to block internet and app access all at the simple touch of a button. They also offer family locator and places services, where you will receive alerts when your kids leave or arrive at certain places you set.
- Net Nanny is a popular parental control app that offers multiple parental controls and filters to protect your entire family from various cyber dangers on all of your electronic devices.
- Google’s Be Internet Awesome is a wonderful space that teaches kids the fundamentals of being a good digital citizen, so they can safely explore the world in a confident way. They offer many tools and resources so your kids can play, learn and stay safe.
I hope you find these tips for how to do a digital cleanse of kids electronics helpful. My goal is for it to spark some positive communication with your kids concerning their digital presence as well as their online safety.
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Monday 2nd of January 2017
[…] Participate in more electronic free time. This is something that I often struggle with, but I really want to work on having less screen time in 2017, especially to set a better example for my kids who are growing up in the digital age. […]
Monday 18th of July 2016
Excellent ideas. When Jaxon gets older I'm definitely going to have to sit down with him and follow your advice!
Keith R Laskey
Monday 18th of July 2016
This is great stuff, Clarissa! There are a ton of good ideas in this post. I definitely think it's smart that we keep our hand on the pulse with what our kids are up to with their phones.