If you’re worried about what your kids are doing online, Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) has put together some helpful tips for anxious parents traversing the dangerous years with kids old enough to surf the web. We’ve seen countless stories of young people pulled into dark rabbit holes that lead to very serious consequences ranging from sex trafficking to medical procedures that alter them forever.
Blackburn has been sounding the alarm about Big Tech for a long time. “Companies use advanced data collecting techniques to gather and analyze the habits movements and interests to build out a virtual you that only exists to cater to advertisers,” she said in 2021. “The impact this has on children can be even more detrimental by taking advantage of the always on mentality children are constantly being tracked and analyzed.”
“Companies like Snapchat have exposed children to predators and explicit adult content while using their products,” said Blackburn. “With millions of teen users, disappearing messages and a map of all of your contacts this has become a child predator’s dream.”
“We must ensure that children aren’t being taken advantage of,” she said. “Social media is something that is causing our children to be more distressed than ever before.”
— Sen. Marsha Blackburn (@MarshaBlackburn) May 18, 2021
Blackburn’s office has released a helpful guide for those of you who need to set better boundaries with your kids. Blackburn says she’s worked closely with industry professionals to alert parents to solid steps they can take to make their kids safer this summer.
The first tip is to make sure their information is not available online. “Keep kids’ personal information private.” Information like full name, location, and any other identifying information should not be a part of any profile. Checking with parents before posting anything to social media is also a good idea.
The parenting tip sheet also goes over the #1 rule of the internet: NEVER meet up with anyone you don’t know. In my house, we go further. My kids aren’t allowed to befriend anyone online they’ve never met through school or activities. If you don’t know them in real life, you aren’t allowed to know them online.
The senator also warns parents to have that “don’t shop without my permission” conversation. A few months ago I got a $400 bill from Apple because my son bought that many gems in Angry Birds. How is that even possible? I don’t know. But it happened. Luckily, Apple refunded most of it. But this is a very important thing to tell them. Many of the games have in-game buying capability. Apple has a setting you can turn on that requires your permission before anything is purchased during game-playing. I highly recommend that setting.
These days, parents can use all the help they can get, and the senator’s suggestions are all pretty good. The only one she’s missing is DELETE TIKTOK. It’s a Chinese spy app that is leading our kids down dark roads of mental illness and eating disorders. Stay far away from that one.
You can read the full list below.