Family Resources for Online Safety
EWSD's expert Technology Integrationists have reviewed the following resources and recommend them for family use and research purposes. Several of the resources, including Common Sense Media, are used to help develop EWSD's digital citizenship lessons.
Please note, we hope this list is helpful, but we neither endorse nor vouch for any specific cable service, internet service provider, software or device in terms of efficacy or helpfulness of parental controls.
EWSD recommends that families review privacy policies and terms of service before installing and using any new application.
Kid Safety in the Digital Age
Learn how to keep kids safe in Cyber Space with this easy resource (opens in new window) filled with expert insights and tips for families from SafeHome.org. Learn the basics and where to turn for more information.
Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media (opens in a new window) is a parent-oriented information and reviews website that helps parents and kids critically look at media, and offers educators and their own reviews on television shows, movies, games, apps and more. Some EWSD teachers use this website's Digital Citizenship curriculum (opens in a new window) to guide classroom content for students of all grades.
Think U Know
A website site from the UK, Think U Know (opens in a new window) has been offering family resources since 2001, and tends to be ahead of the curve. While U.S. concerns cannot be reported to their governing body, the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre, the Parents & Carers page tackles nuanced topics other websites do not, including social elements of online gaming, risks taken while live-streaming, and use of online pornography.
NetSmartz is a website with advice on Internet Safety that is geared toward different age groups (link opens in a new window) and is run by the Center for Missing and Exploited Children. It offers information on various challenges, such as social media, exposure to inappropriate material, cyberbullying, sexting, device use, and gaming. Suggestions adhere to the Center's four basic tenets of child safety protocol, which you can learn about in Parent Tips (opens in a new window): Check First, Bring a Friend, Tell People 'No', and Tell a Trusted Adult.
An extension of PBS Kids, the PBS Parents (opens in a new window) website offers a host of advice on introducing best practices and critical thinking to children of all ages. The Children & Media section offers information on TV & Movies, Video Games, Computers, and Advertising, segmented into four different age groups.
CIPA and COPPA
There are two federal laws that help govern the use of products by, and privacy of, children. CIPA stands for the Children's Internet Protection Act, and you can learn more information or look into filing a complaint at the Federal Trade Commission's online CIPA guide. COPPA stands for The Children's Online Privacy Protection Act and requires parental consent, privacy protection and marketing restrictions on digital products for children under the age of 13. It is also governed by the FTC. The Google Play store has helpful guidance for families that helps make sense of this in the lense of app or software purchases.
Activity Monitoring & Parental Controls
Educators at EWSD do not endorse or advise towards any specific device or software for behavior monitoring or time limits, but want to share general information about useful options.
- Parental Controls: Many Android and iOS mobile devices are equipped with options that can be adjusted *in the device's settings directly.* Check your device's manual or contact the manufacturer's customer service to learn how to set parental controls. Common Sense Media features several articles and app reviews on parental controls - check out the Cellphone Parenting blog for device-specific controls and guidance.
- Internet Service Providers: Cable or internet providers now offer services to adjust restriction level of your internet surfing capabilities, and create "blackout" periods to enable families to limit internet use at certain times. Cable services can usually be adjusted with the remote control using the provider's menu, as well. EWSD Tech Department recommends a free service available called Open DNS (link opens in a new page, select Family Shield) for parents wishing to filter Internet use at home.
- Social Media: Parents are often encouraged to be aware of what kids are doing on social media. Some families are online friends, others are sharing passwords and checking in periodically; yet others use monitoring software. Educators want to issue words of caution, that for every parent-facing account a student has, they likely have another online presence that a parent doesn't know about. Keeping children educated and having regular, ongoing dialogue is one of the best steps a parent can take.