Sloane Belt, 8 years old.

It’s a parent’s worst nightmare. You find out that your kid has been put in danger after having a conversation with someone they met online. It happens everyday. According to a study conducted by Pew Research Center, 92 percent of teens (13-17 years old) report they go online daily. So what do you do to protect your child from the dangers of something that seems so widespread?

While the internet and social media both have many benefits, it is important to tackle the issues that come along with these powerful tools we have at our fingertips. To assist, we’ve crafted a list of best practices to help you better deal with your digitally savvy child.

1. Tweak

Location and Privacy Settings

Keeping up with family members through GPS may give you peace of mind, but it’s important to limit sharing your child’s location only to the people who absolutely need it. Making sure your kids have their locations disabled when posting to social media is imperative to ensuring their safety. Many are unaware that the photos your child takes can have their exact location attached to them, potentially leading predators directly to your child’s home or school.

2. Use Tools to Keep a Closer Eye on Data Usage

FamilyBase by Verizon allows parents to access kids' text and call history and set internet filters.

Whether you have a tablet-obsessed child, or a smartphone-addicted teen, you can monitor the way they use these devices. For example, FamilyBase by Verizon allows parents to take back family time by limiting access to calls, texts and data, blocking unwanted contacts, viewing and monitoring kids’ text and call history, setting filters to block access to inappropriate apps and websites and more.

Circle with Disney allows parents to manage their home’s connected devices by filtering content, limiting online screen time and setting a bedtime for every device in the home. Although you can’t be everywhere all the time, apps and devices like these can help you to rest easy.

3. Monitor Your Child’s Posts

If you can’t beat them, join them! Follow your kid on all social media platforms and keep up with key trends. While you may not have time to be an active user across all platforms, it is important that you monitor their activity from a user’s standpoint. This will help you to look for any red flags.

Your children may not think about how what they post could affect their futures. Additionally, according to the Up to Speed podcast by Verizon, parents must learn to be digital role models. Children are far more likely to do what you do as opposed to what you say, so be sure your actions line up with your words.

4. Communicate

Circle with Disney allows parents to limit kids' online screen time through an app.

One aspect that parents often miss out on is communication.

“Our No. 1 tip is to talk to your kids,” says Stephen Balkam, founder and CEO of the Family Online Safety Institute. “This is an ongoing conversation that will probably start as early as 2 or 3 years old and go all the way through until they are off to college.”

Talk to your child and see how they feel about social media. Create a social media contract outlining expectations and repercussions they may face if the contract is broken. Remember, communication is the key to trust!

Jeannine Brew is the public relations manager for Verizon’s South Central Market. Since 2016, she has led the South Central Market’s external communications efforts.

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