Security expert offers ways for parents to keep up with their child's secret online life

Suzanne Monaghan
August 11, 2019 - 5:54 pm

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The internet is constantly changing, so for parents, it can seem like an overwhelming task to try to keep up with their child's online activity.

But you don't need to know everything online, you just need to know what your kids do online, says Linsly Donnelly with Securly.

She suggests parents know the apps and social media platforms their kids use and be aware of the three main consequences for kids on the internet.

First, bad habits online will become lifelong habits.  

"If your habit is to always go to a device and go there 'cause you're bored or 'cause you're not feeling happy, there's a different way to think about how you develop a habit that's a positive lifelong, sustaining habit," Donnelly said. 

Second, what's put online can come back to haunt you.

"The idea that you do something and it's truly anonymous is fallacy. What you do online is out there forever."

And there are online sexual and financial predators.

"People are not who they say they are, so it's all of the predators online, the ability to hack a child's account and take their social security number," Donnelly added. 

Teens often use slang to try to hide their dangerous online behavior, Donnelly says, so watch for acronyms like POS (parent over shoulder) or NIFOC (naked in front of computer). 

"The last 10 years must feel like 100 years for most parents who are trying to navigate this digital parenting world." 

Donnelly says there are several apps and other tools that allow parents to see the texts and online activities on their child's phone. Let them know it's your device that you're letting them use so you can look at it at anytime.

"It's not spying on your child. This is a public arena when they're on their digital device. So you're there to help shepherd them in that public world."