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How to use technology to protect your family

We want to assume that the world is safe, but sometimes parents need to use the tools at their disposal to protect themselves and their children. 

family of father and two daughters interacting on tablet in kitchen
Image: Unsplash

Undoubtedly, technology has taken over the world, for better or worse. Everything that can be online is online, including some devices you didn’t think could move online. After all, who predicted the smart fridge?

This rise in technology and the digitalization of our lives has spread to the family unit.

More often than not, children are more tech-savvy than the older generations and are also more dependent on technology in their lives. 

This is a valuable skill to encourage, and technology can create some fantastic opportunities for your family. However, it also comes with some inherent dangers.

Here are some ways to use technology to protect your family and some risks to look out for.

Dangers of technology

apple screen time
Image: Apple

Children and teenagers use technology for all kinds of things, from schoolwork to entertainment to socialization. However, while technology is undeniably useful, it can be a double-edged sword.

This is why it’s so crucial for parents to become tech-savvy, even if it doesn’t come naturally to them. You can’t protect your children if you don’t know the dangers.

Screen time

The most prevalent danger of technology is time. It’s very easy to spend all day in front of a screen, which adults also struggle with.

You work all day behind a computer screen, then you spend your spare time either on your phone or watching something on the television. 

This danger is even more present for your children. As they become increasingly tech-savvy, they depend on technology to fulfill their wants and needs.

Like you, they may need to spend a lot of time at school on a laptop or computer to complete their work. Then, when they want to relax, they come home and play games or watch things on their devices.

person holding a smartphone showing apps like instagram
Image: Unsplash

The problem is that spending too much time staring at screens isn’t good for you or your children. It can cause eye strain, posture problems, and issues with your wrists and back.

Some people end up with repetitive strain injury or carpal tunnel syndrome from too much time spent playing games or using a keyboard and mouse.

Not only this, but this is time spent sitting down in a passive position. Children and adults need to move to stay healthy, and if they entertain themselves by playing games inside, they aren’t spending any time playing outside.

This can lead to health problems. Finally, all of this screen time can isolate your family from each other. While technology creates connections, it can do the opposite for a family unit if abused.

The best way to mitigate this issue is to work together as a family. Make sure you do things together, such as playing games outside and going on hikes.

Exercise, keep active, and have fun together. This is good for the physical and mental health of your family.

People online

Image: Unsplash

Technology allows people to connect with each other, no matter where they are in the world.

This can be a fantastic opportunity for your family, allowing your children to learn from people’s experiences and connect with people with similar interests. But, unfortunately, it also opens them up to some serious dangers.

One issue currently on the rise is cyberbullying. Your child can be contacted by people they know at school or even strangers and then bullied, insulted, and harassed even in the privacy of their own homes.

Something that should be a haven instead becomes another threat. Cyberbullying can be relentless and incredibly distressing, so it’s crucial to be approachable to your children so they can come to you if something like this happens to them.

You need to understand how cyberbullying happens and how you can protect your family. 

Another potentially dangerous and horrendous danger online is that your child could be exposed to predators. They could be talking to anyone, and you might not know who they are speaking to or what they’re talking about.

Your child might even think they’re talking to another peer when they’re talking to an adult.

these people know how to manipulate children and teenagers. They might encourage them to meet in person, leading to even more dangerous situations. 

This is incredibly sensitive to talk to your children about, but it is something they should be aware of.

Tell your children about the risks of the internet and if they use social media, make sure that their accounts are private and that you know who is following them and who they are talking to. 

It’s understandable to want to shield your children from the unpleasant realities of the world, but it’s more important to keep them safe. Explain your reasoning.

Unfortunately, children and teenagers can be stubborn and may make poor decisions, so there are times when you have to be the bad guy. 

Scams and cybercrime

cybercrime manging risk
Image: Unsplash

One danger that isn’t unique to children is people trying to scam them or hack into their devices.

Children might not be aware of the dangers of scams and unknown emails, so they are more likely to click links they shouldn’t or give away information that can lead to fraud.

Parents have lost money because their children have used credit cards to purchase things online, either through a scam or simply because they wanted something in a game.

Never allow young children to use your cards to purchase anything online, even if it seems small to start with. 

Educate your children to know how to best use technology and avoid these dangers. Then, while you’re at it, keep a sharp eye on them and ensure you know what they’re doing to keep them safe.

Using technology for good

The good news is that technology can also be a tool to help you to protect your family. Here are some ways to mitigate the dangers of using the internet and even use it to help you look after yourself and your children.

Parental controls

Parental controls, firewalls, and software like the FamilyTime app are tools every parent should have in their arsenal to help them protect their children.

You can use these apps to control what your children do online and how long.

Firewalls protect your whole family from dangerous websites and bugs so that you or your child can’t accidentally expose your devices to a virus.

Everyone should have some protection like this, whether they have children or not. Parental control software often comes with a firewall, but it also has other tools.

For example, you can use them to allow or block specific applications and websites to protect your children from inappropriate things online.

You can also see what your children use and track how much time they spend on their devices. You may even set restrictions on the device or particular apps, turning video game time into a treat rather than something they do all the time.

True, these restrictions might not make you popular, but they encourage your children to find other entertainment avenues.

Phone tracking

phone with map app open in a hand wearing a glove
Image: Unsplash

If you’re concerned about where your children are physically, then you can use Google Maps and other tracking apps to monitor their location.

This is especially important if you suspect they’ve contacted someone they shouldn’t have. The world is dangerous, and while we’d like to trust that our children will be okay, every parent must take steps to protect them.

However, it’s essential to communicate with your children and explain your actions so that they feel loved and protected, not stifled.

One pitfall that some parents fall into is being seen as overprotective and overly strict. But unfortunately, strict parents can sometimes just raise sneaky children who know how best to flaunt the rules.

It’s often better to encourage open communication so that your children willingly come to you if they’re worried about something, rather than being more afraid of the potential punishment.

Other technology

doogee n100 smartphone in someone's hand
Image: Ste Knight / KnowTechie

Other technology can also be great tools to keep you and your children safe. For example, cameras in your car and outside your property can protect you against theft or other dangers.

A dashcam is especially important as, if you get into an accident, you can tell your insurance precisely what happened and protect yourself against any lawsuits.

Some phone apps allow you and your children to quickly raise the alarm if they are in a dangerous situation so that they can call you or the police and find their way back home safely.

Smartwatches are another option, as it’s often easier to surreptitiously press a button on a watch than on the phone.

We want to assume that the world is safe, but sometimes parents need to use the tools at their disposal to protect themselves and their children. 

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