We all know that screen time is not the best thing for kids. But let’s face it, there will always be moments where you will feel the desperate need to keep your children busy and would probably offer them a phone or an iPad to grab their attention. THAT’S DEFINITELY NOT RIGHT! In fact, for toddlers, it can result in a delay in the development of fine motor skills. There are amazing mothers who manage to avoid screen time completely. I really admire their efforts but sadly, I am not one of those and I know that many mothers aren’t too. Screens can be a tool to keep the little ones busy for a little while so we can manage to accomplish few tasks successfully, we must always be alert to make it as safe as possible.
My 2 years old toddler keeps exploring the suggested videos on YouTube and several times I spotted horrifying stuff. I made sure that the parental control is turned on and still they keep appearing. So I decided to view the videos on my own and analyze their content myself and I was literally terrified. There is an enormous amount of videos aimed at young children that are creepy. Apparently some people are creating disturbing cartoons while making them appear kid-friendly in order to get your children to watch inappropriate content. Children’s innocence is being preyed on by twisted minds in various manipulative ways. Just search the words “Doc McStuffins, Mickey, Nursery Rhymes or Disney” on YouTube and thousands of videos will pop up. These videos, that appear to be educational videos expose kids to violence, nudity and sexual gestures. Many of these collected millions of views. I spent hours browsing through these videos and endless questions came to my mind. I’ve seen violent videos of dolls being injected with needles, children acting as if they are being run over by cars and Mickey setting his own house on fire. Is there any possibility that there is an attempt to condition children ? There are loads of videos that have sexual contents. The trending videos of a couple dressed in Elsa and Spiderman while they continuously kiss. In one video he impregnated her. Do these videos contain subliminal messages? There are videos showing kids playing with huge amounts of candies and sweets. This can definitely trigger unhealthy eating patterns. Is there anyway to reverse these effects?
Since we cannot know who is doing these videos and why. We can only focus on how to protect our kids that’s why I interviewed Marwa Saadawi, a school counselor and child therapist at The Wellness Hub to ask her about internet safety.
I wish I can eliminate screen time completely. But what if I couldn’t ?
Online safety has become more of an issue now than ever before, because of the unlimited access children are given when viewing the internet. The reality to children viewing inappropriate content is that children will encounter these risks no matter how many limits you put. Since this is not a fixable issue parents must have a mindset of teaching their children the skills to recognize warning factors, and how to react upon viewing it.
Ignoring the topic, punishing your child, and/ or limiting access to the internet will not benefit you or your family in any way.
How can we prepare children for what they might see?
Although you as a parent want this issue to disappear and not be a part of your child’s life, the reality is that it is inevitable and unavoidable. So one must face this issue by supporting your child’s resilience. You also want to encourage an open communication with your child about the risks that they encounter online. You do not want your children to “avoid” or hide what they are seeing in fear of what your reaction may be. It is not their fault that these videos come up, however how they react is up to how you will set the tone in your home.
Children must build resilience online. Resilience is simply the ability to deal with negative experiences in any context. You do this through teaching coping strategies:
1. Talk to someone about the problem:
a. tell your child that they should: let someone know that you came across an inappropriate video.
b. Cater language based on age: “yucky video, bad video, inappropriate video”
2. Problem solve:
a. Show your child how to actively “block” or report a bad video
3. Ignore the problem:
a. Teach them to get off of an unwanted site
What you will find is that most children will use a combination of these strategies.
How can we teach them to react appropriately to such content?
Children based on their age range, must be taught appropriate online etiquette and safety. So whether it is practicing together: reporting, and blocking inappropriate content, or teaching them about the importance of privacy (how much to share or not share online), it is a topic that cannot be ignored. And it is a topic that will be ongoing throughout their lives. Adults and even celebrities encounter cyberbullying, negative comments constantly; so the conversation is ongoing, and should always be open to communicating.
Start today by simply sitting with them while they are watching their videos, and when an inappropriate video does come up, take this moment to discuss why it is not good, and what to do when it does happen. It is uncomfortable and not pleasant, but educating them is the key.
If your children have hit the pre-teen, teen years, a deeper discussion needs to happen surrounding the topics of: cyber-bullying, how much they should share on social media, and the issue of nudity. If you do not discuss these topics, they will gain their information, views, and opinions through their peers, what they see, and well what they google.
If you are not having these conversations today you need to re-evaluate and heavily consider the immense importance of having them. Your child, teen, adult, will at some point or another encounter cyber-bullying, witness it, or be a part of it. So pay attention, and be alert on what they are doing online today.
Remember that children have to learn how to manage risks themselves; as a parent you want to teach them just like we tell them “not to take candy” from strangers, so they know when they encounter this situation what to do. The same goes with the online world.
Marwa Saadawi ‘s TIPS FOR INTERNET SAFETY
1. Download kid friendly browsers:
a. For young children there is a children’s version of YouTube that you can download onto your smart devices.
b. There is also zoodle, and kido’s
2. You can create a folder on any smart device, or computer with all your child’s favorite sites that you have already approved. This limits your child from having to google their sites.
3. Set parental controls on the I-phone:
a. This sets restrictions of what kids can download from the app store, adds safe search settings, locks applications that your kids are opening, etc.
4. Regularly check your child’s history on their devices.
Note: if your child is clearing his/her history this is a red flag that they are hiding something from you
Bookmark your children’s favorite sites and label their folder by their name.
1. Google Chrome:
Step 1: on the top tab is a label named bookmarks scroll to bookmarks manager.
Step 2: Click organize.. it will bring down a mini menu and click add new folder.
Step 3: Label the folder your child’s name
Step 4: Open all the sites your child uses.
Step 5: Click the bookmarks label and click bookmark all tabs.
Step 6: Click on childs name when the window pops up and click ok.
Step 7: To find the bookmarks click the bookmark tab and scroll to the bottom until you find your kids folder
Step 8: TEACH YOUR CHILD HOW TO GET TO THE BOOKMARK
Note: If you have a MacBook and are connected with your phone and I-PAD the bookmarks created on your computer will automatically sync
Step 1: Open the Safari tab
Step 2: On the bottom right hand corner is a symbol that looks like a book. Click this symbol.
Step 3: On the bottom right hand corner click edit
Step 4: On the bottom left hand corner click New folder
Step 5: Name the folder in the title bar
Step 6: Now to add to the folder/folders you created go and open the website you want to save.
Step 7: On the bottom right hand corner is a symbol that looks like an arrow. Click this symbol.
Step 8: Click add bookmark
Step 9: Label the bookmark whatever you like, and then under location choose the folder you want it to be in.
Step 10: When you open safari you can always click the book symbol to find the folder with the sites marked in it
Special Note: If you mark in the favorites tab it will automatically show up when you open a new page.
HOW DO I SET PARENTAL CONTROLS ON THE IPHONE:
“Settings,” choose “General,” and then select “Restrictions.” You’ll be prompted for a PIN that gives you access to enable or disable “Restrictions.” There you can turn off any features you want — for example, Siri. Then scroll down to the section “Allowed Content.” This is the place to choose individual limits on what types of content can be downloaded — for example, only apps for 4-year-olds — and to add safe-search settings.
Enabling Guided Access. This mode locks the phone on a single app so your kid can’t click out of it. It’s a great way to help kids (or you!) stay focused on one task.
To enable Guided Access, touch “Settings,” choose “General,” select “Accessibility,” and scroll down to “Learning.” Click on “Guided Access” and toggle it on. When you want to use it, simply launch the app your kid wants to use and triple-click the Home button. A passcode must be entered to disable Guided Access — so don’t tell your kids your passcode!
Downloading a kid-friendly browser. Although you can add safe-search settings to Safari in “Restrictions”/”Allowed Content,” you also can completely disable the Safari browser (in Restrictions) and download a brand-new kid-friendly browser. Or you can download a search-filtering program that works with Safari. A couple to try: Kido’z and Zoodles Kids YouTube.
Setting iTunes Preferences. Remember that content downloaded onto the computer and shared in the cloud can be played on the iPhone. To manage this content, go to the iTunes store on your computer. Go to “Edit” in the top menu, choose “Preferences,” and click on “Parental.” There you’ll find controls for what you can download and the TV and movie ratings you’re OK with your kids downloading and sharing.
1. How to put privacy settings on YouTube
Special note: YouTube has a special app for children It is free and it is called YouTube Kids.
Special note: You must sign out and sign back in for it to work.
2. Searching in google
Step 1: Select images on the upper right hand corner
Step 2: On the bottom right hand side of the google search page is settings. Click it
Step 3: Choose search settings
Step 4: Click the button that says turn safe search on
Step 5: follow instructions that follow
3. Tracking videos that have been seen on youtube
Step 1: Click your profile icon and choose google+Profile
Step 2: On the left hand side click setttings
Step 3: Scroll down- under privacy click manage google activity
Step 4: Scroll down to review activity click go to my activity
Step 5: This page shows you everything that was searched under this username