Today we have a guest blog from NHL veteran Paul Ranheim and his partner Brain Lawson; co-founders of the PG Key, an award winning computer safety device recently featured on the TODAY Show. The PG Key is a great new tool helping parents keep kids safe everyday!
By: Paul Ranheim and Brian Lawson
As a 15 year veteran of the NHL, I’ve always believed that playing good hockey meant being prepared by training smart, having an understanding of the game and its rules and using the right equipment to perform well and keep safe.
Has it occurred to you that these same basic principals are also true when it comes to our children’s use of the home PC?
When my kids (8 and 11) started using the computer in our house for school and fun I knew I had to do something. Just taking a computer out of a box and letting my kids use it without any protection felt like the wrong thing to do.
A little research proved that my instincts were correct. The Internet poses many threats to our kids and those threats are much more than the exposure they get to inappropriate material. Children and teens post information about themselves, download programs that can steal personal information, and engage in conversations with people who may not be who they say they are. And much of the time, they don’t realize that they are doing anything wrong!
Don’t worry though, parenting your child’s “online life”, doesn’t have to be confusing. Most of the expert’s advice usually just involves applying your everyday parenting style to this part of their world. Most of the countless articles, books and lectures on this topic can be simplified down to 3 main points:
1) Set limits on when and how long the computer is used.
As a parent, it’s essential that you have a way to easily allow, and deny the use of the technology in your house. You also need to know, with certainty, that there’s not a way for your children to use computers without your knowledge. Treat the computer like any other privilege. It’s also important to set and enforce time limits.
2) Create a safe environment.
This is no different from when you let them play at the park. Prior to setting your child free to play, you probably glance around to make sure there are no obvious dangers. (Broken glass at the bottom of the slide, rabid dog roaming the sand box) Think of the computer the same way. Creating a safe computer playground is done with filtering, website blocking and properly setting up your user profiles. I know this is where some parents start to get that glazed look in their eyes. This step does require a little bit of work on your part, but not as much as you think. And there’s no need to pay expensive annual fees for services – a little bit of research and a few minutes spent learning about your operating system and web browser can go a long way.
3) Be “over the shoulder.”
This is the most critical point. As a parent, you can not let yourself be shut out of their online world. It’s important that you know what they do online, and it’s even more important that they know you know! Tell them you’re involved. Engage and ask questions about what they do online. Have them show you the games they play. Remind them often, that you (and the rest of the planet!) may very well see what they do online. This important lesson will save them from embarrassment – at least! (We’re all too familiar with the sometimes tragic consequences that occur when children or teens use poor judgment about what they “tell the world” online)
Computers, cell phones and the Internet are a part of our world, and a growing part of your kid’s life. There’s little way around it; keeping your children safe online and teaching them to use technology with responsibility have been added to your long list of important parenting “must do’s”
Every parent has their own tactics and style that best suit their children’s lifestyles. No matter what type of parenting you apply – make sure it’s a part of your children’s online world.