How to keep your child tech safe

This article was co-authored by Scott Nelson, JD. Scott Nelson is a Police Sergeant with the Mountain View Police Department in California. He is also a practicing attorney for Goyette & Associates, Inc. where he represents public employees with a myriad of labor issues throughout the state. He has over 15 years of experience in law enforcement and specializes in digital forensics. Scott has received extensive training through the National Computer Forensics Institute and holds forensic certifications from Cellbrite, Blackbag, Axiom Forensics, and others. He earned a Master of Business Administration from the California State University Stanislaus and a Juris Doctorate from the Laurence Drivon School of Law.

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Using technology has become a necessity for many people today, and children are usually more than eager to play on phones, tablets, or gaming platforms. Unrestricted and unguided use of technology can be a real problem. Children need boundaries, appropriate material, guidance on internet etiquette and manners to guide them, and above all, monitoring.

How to keep your child tech safe

Scott Nelson, JD
Police Sergeant, Mountain View Police Department Expert Interview. 2 April 2020.

  • Sexting and other photos. Young children and teens can take photos and send them easily. What they may not consider is that once a photo is sent, it is out of the child’s control. Even with Snapchat (where the photo is posted temporarily), one cannot be certain the recipient is the one intended.
  • How to keep your child tech safe

    How to keep your child tech safe

    How to keep your child tech safe

    Scott Nelson, JD
    Police Sergeant, Mountain View Police Department Expert Interview. 2 April 2020. Make sure the list of rules is age-appropriate (“No accessing websites without checking with a parent may be good for a child in early elementary school, but sounds ridiculous in high school.”) And there are consequences for violating these rules.

    • A sample list for a preteen may look something like:
      • No downloading software or apps or buying in-app purchases without permission. This may include free apps as well. The parent needs to know what programs are on.
      • No installing programs on the computer without a parent’s knowledge. (Be aware sometimes this can happen by accident on certain sites without the child realizing he or she downloaded a game, however.)
      • No tampering with programs installed by a parent (e.g. antivirus software, parental controls.)
      • No accessing sites that are not known and trusted. The parent decides what is known and trusted.
      • No use of the internet to bully or harass others, whether they’re known in person or not.
      • Parents have the right to access technology at any time, for any reason. This for reasons of monitoring what is being accessed, usage, and so on. The parent is ultimately responsible for what the child is doing, and is paying for usage and the device, so this is the rule. That does not mean the parent should be a tyrant about this, but it should be clear that the device is monitored.
      • When talking to people online, don’t share personal information about yourself.
    • Try to base these rules on past behavior, as stated above.

    How to keep your child tech safe

    Scott Nelson, JD
    Police Sergeant, Mountain View Police Department Expert Interview. 2 April 2020. Make a rule with your child or teen that if they are found behaving this way, their social media privilege will be revoked.

    • As a general rule, a child under the age of 10 probably should not be on social media sites such as Facebook. Because your child is still fairly young, they may not properly understand that what you put on social media is out there forever, and they may make some bad choices.
    • Those under 13 that are allowed on social media should have their accounts supervised to make sure that they’re not abusing any accounts.
      • Only check your child’s social media account once in a while or if you have a good reason to suspect your child is abusing their social media privileges. If you do this too often, your child may feel that their privacy is being violated, leading to a loss of trust and a bad parent-child relationship.
    • Set special rules on some social media sites; certain websites are known for having many, many bullies.

    How to keep your child tech safe

    Scott Nelson, JD
    Police Sergeant, Mountain View Police Department Expert Interview. 2 April 2020. Before putting these rules in place and starting to enforce them, bring your child into the decision. Lay out the ground rules. Explain which rules are non-negotiable (for example, no tampering with parental controls or using social media for engaging in bad behavior), and which rules you’d be willing to compromise on, and let your child give their input. Be willing to listen and compromise, but also be sure to not let your child run the show. You are a parent, not someone who comes up with ideas that your child scraps.

    • Be smart about making exceptions. It is always best to be consistent, but due to circumstances you may need to be flexible with internet use. Some exceptions to consider:
      • Homework, (or similar work) does not fall under “screen time”. If your child needs an hour to work on that research project, it is not wise to take it out of your child’s free time. This will likely end up with a poorly research and rushed project!
      • You may want to allow video calling with friends and family to not count or fully count towards screen time.
      • Although the internet should not be routinely used as a babysitter, sometimes a parent may elect to allow some extra time for extraordinary situations. Used sparingly, this may help out parents in a pinch.
      • Always explain the reason behind each of your rules, including consequences that may follow infractions. This will help make things more clear for your child and not seem like you are making arbitrary rules. This does not, however, mean your child will “fully understand” the reasons. Nor does it guarantee your child will fully agree.

    How to keep your child tech safe

    One of the most beneficial applications of modern technology concerns your home security and safety. A lot of homeowners (especially parents) are worried when it comes to this subject. Some may not trust their home with technology, but development over the years has made it more sophisticated and reliable. One particular area of concern is home smart locks. Can it protect your home from unwanted invaders? Will it do its job of keeping your children safe (especially when they are alone)?

    What Are Home Smart Locks?

    With smart home technology becoming a common conversation piece, it’s hard to imagine the day before keyless entry was even possible. Many homeowners have switched to adapting the use of smart locks into their home. With a growing number of burglary incidents, no home is safe. Even when you have locked the door or any other entry points, burglars can get in if they wanted to.

    Keyless locks, or smart locks, for your home use a variety of technologies. You can choose from any of the following technologies to secure your home door:

    • Smart cards
    • Number pads
    • Biometric fingerprint scanner

    The idea of using such technology for your home lock is to eliminate the need for a key and lock.

    Despite that, the level of security is heightened. The technology will not permit entry to anyone who fails to meet the security requirement to unlock it. For example, if the fingerprint is not recognized, then it won’t unlock the door. Unlike traditional lock systems that can be manipulated by burglars, this improved technology is difficult for them to manipulate. Amazon Key is a smart lock option that allows you to safely control services and deliveries to your home so they aren’t left outside at risk of being stolen.

    How to keep your child tech safe

    Security Benefit of Smart Locks

    If you are a parent, you might find yourself asking this question: “What can smart locks do that traditional locks can’t?” To keep your children safe, smart locks have advanced features that are not available with traditional locks. There is remote access. You will be able to lock or unlock your doors even when you are not at home. If your kids are left behind at home, you will be able to have peace of mind that all doors are locked even when your kids forget to do so.

    This will prevent any unwanted or unauthorized access into your home. It’s great not just for when you leave your children at home, but also during nighttime. You can also assign virtual keys to different family members – even the people who work for you such as repairman, nannies, dog walkers, etc. The virtual key will leave behind a digital trail, tracking who accessed your home at a particular time.

    Aside from unauthorized access, this feature can also be used to protect your children. As kids grow up, they become curious and adventurous as they leave the house. With traditional lock systems, your child can easily step out of the door without your knowledge. But with smart locks, your child won’t be able to unlock the door unless you allow it on the system.

    Parenting Benefit of Smart Locks

    If you have anxiety about leaving your child at home, smart locks can provide relief. Most smart locks can be remotely operated with internet access. This will prompt you if the doors are locked or unlocked. You can monitor your children at home while allowing them to become independent.

    You can even pair the smart lock with other smart home technologies. A doorbell camera is the most common feature paired with a smart lock for your home. You can see who the visitors are and lock or unlock your home door accordingly.

    Smart locks are good to consider if you are looking to expand your smart home devices. HelloTech provides a variety of smart home services including Smart Device Hook-up and Video Doorbell Installation if you need assistance.

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    Why You’ve Got to Listen to This Episode.

    Moments You Don’t Want to Miss

      [4:01] This is the difference between productive time and down time on a screen [6:39] Discover some of the best tools and apps to keep your kids safe online [15:45] Consider these ways to navigate boundaries for kids who are wanting to use social platforms [18:05] Find out how to protect yourself in terms of your digital footprint [39:43] Here are some things to explore when it comes to trust vs. over-monitoring your kids’ screen time [45:33] Chelsea’s Top Takeaways

    What Are Your Family Money Values?

    How to keep your child tech safe

    Grab our free Family Money Values Template and create a strong foundation for your family’s healthy money habits!

    Key Takeaways to Help You Become a Tech-Savvy Mama & Keep Your Kids Safe Online.

    As always, we’ve rounded up our top three takeaways to summarize what we believe are the core points to remember from Leticia.

    1 – There’s a Difference Between Productive vs. Passive Screen Time

    I had never heard this distinction before but it’s so helpful. Are they reading? Are they watching educational videos? Or are they gaming or watching a movie? What are they getting out of the experience? Are they really zoning out or are they engaging with the content and learning something new?

    Limits are going to be different for every family. If your kid is doing online school, then they’re going to spend more hours a day on a screen than a child who isn’t. A lot of these limits come down to striking a balance between the productive and passive screen time. Making informed decisions about those limits also requires that we actually track how much time the whole family is spending online.

    2 – Keep an Open Door Policy to Keep Your Kids Safe Online

    Next, I appreciated the way Leticia reminds her students and kids that if they find themselves on an inappropriate site, just let a trusted adult know. As we all know, kids aren’t always looking for that kind of material. It often finds them. Knowing they can come to you without judgment or risking getting in trouble will keep them from hiding it from you.

    Having an open door will also allow you to answer any questions they may have or any anxieties they may have after stumbling on something that they know they should not have seen. Also, cyber bullying is a huge issue throughout childhood. Being able to share with a safe adult any time they’re experiencing bullying without fear is very key.

    3 – Tech is Never One Size Fits All

    Finally, the personality and temperament of each child will play into the way you use tech and what limits you set for your children. You also want to think about your family values, your individual circumstances, and the season of your life that you’re in. With everything in parenting and money, there’s no one size fits all answer most of the time.

    Links & Resources Mentioned

    • Be Prepared with the New Mama Money Plan!
    • Join the Motivated Mama Society today!
    • Grab your FREE Family Money Values Template
    • Episode 29: How to Determine Your Family Money Values
    • Bark – Parental Monitoring App
    • Common Sense Media
    • Be Internet Awesome – A Program to Teach Kids Online Safety
    • Circle App
    • YouTube Kids

    How to keep your child tech safe

    Connect with Leticia

    Leticia is an award-winning technology, education, and parenting blogger who founded and teaches middle school computer science. She has combined her knowledge of child development, psychology, education, tech and parenting to provide useful advice for families about the digital parenting topics since 2008. Leticia has been a columnist for, has had her writing syndicated on Scholastic parents, and written for Common Sense Media.

    She currently advises YouTube as a member of the YouTube Kids Parents Panel and serves on the education advisory board for Leticia was awarded the 2020 Iris Award® for Mom Blog of the Year and is the 2018 Iris Awards® winner for Philanthropic Work of the Year. Leticia lives with her family in the Washington, D.C. area where she unplugs to spend time with her husband, 2 teens, their overly enthusiastic Golden Retriever Labrador rescue, and their growing flock of backyard chickens.

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    Are you subscribed to the Smart Money Mamas podcast? If you’re not, I want to encourage you to head over to Apple Podcasts (or wherever you listen to your podcasts) and subscribe! I release episodes twice and week and as a subscriber, you’ll be notified right away so you can take checking the feed for new content off your mental to-do list.

    Click here to subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or Spotify!




    Howdy again, parents, teachers, administrators, teens, and children, and anyone else in the community determined to do whatever possible to make sure our children and teens return to the classroom in September in one piece. Physically, emotionally, psychological. I know the title would lead you to believe the only threat I am focused on is the deadly, recidivistic and violent sexual predator who is locked into stalking, tracking, grooming, and abducting your child to a pre-arranged, isolated and secluded location from which he or she will likely never return.

    And, in truth, the “Chicken Hawk” carries the most lethal and immediate threat to children, but don’t underestimate the long term damage a sexual deviant like Jerry Sandusky can have if he gets his hooks into your kid. Not to mention gangs and/or bullies.

    So, any parent who takes on the role of a Safety Coach has his or her work cut out. So many hazards and perils out there you need to be aware of.


    The threats are out there, for sure, so it is my fervent belief that the primary goal of any Safety Coach will be to Spinal Tune his or her children to be at maximum capability if and when any one of the threats above materialize on your child. Every child has within them the natural ability to overcome the fear and uncertainty that will attend any sudden attack by a larger teenager or violent adult. Spinal Tuning is a self-defense and subject control training term meaning that the individual is prepared through training both mentally and physically to respond immediately and effectively as one dynamic unity.

    So, what are some of the lessons parents can implement to maximize their child’s ability to escape and evade the perils lurking around the corner?

    • CYCLE BREATHING DRILLS. I have already discussed the importance of delivering oxygenated blood to the brain in order for your child to be able to fight effectively. Until Tactical Breathing becomes “automatic,” parents should ask their kids to perform exaggerated breathing before he/she performs any self-defense drills.
    • GRIP THEIR HANDS. The second act your child can perform before or during drills is to grip his or her palm with their fingers, which is a Trigger Exercise to regain the use of his or her head, hands, and feet in a crisis by circulating oxygenated blood. Gripping by opening and closing the hands or by picking up and gripping an object when he or she is confronted with fear, especially when part of a repetitive training program (by a Safety Coach or a professional instructor) will act as an automatic trigger that not only gets the body moving (after your child has initially froze after being confronted by a sudden and spontaneous close quarter threat) but taps into what I call the Primal Visceral Lode, located deep down within your child, every child.
    • USE “FIRST CONTACT” AS A TRIGGER FOR ACTION. Teach your child during discussions and role play drills to automatically and immediately “act” when he or she is first contacted or even touched (unwanted touching) to do something. In other words—
    • BREATHE DON’T FREEZE. Don’t allow your child to ever glue him or herself to the ground. Movement, especially tactical movement, frees and liberates the mind and soul.
    • DEVELOP SELF CONFIDENCE. Always remember this and never forget: “He or she who does not believe in her or himself and faces an enemy is already outnumbered.”
      • Believe in your child and communicate that.
      • Praise your child when praise is due.
      • Communicate and listen with and to your child.
      • Make courage and self confidence a part of your daily discussions.
      • Maybe using stories in the news, role-play with your children, engaging them in short reminder conversations about what they might do in one or some of those scenarios, always using a tone that shows your confidence in him or her.
      • “Louie, you are a pretty courageous kid, so what would you do in this situation?”

    In the next post we will chat about the sequential Child Escape Method.

    Until then, Stay safe.

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    How to set up parental controls in Windows 10 and Windows 8.

    The Internet is a scary place even if you don’t have children. But for those of you who do have children, Microsoft has built parental controls into Windows 10 (and Windows 8) that can help you track what your kids are doing online, limit their screen time across multiple devices and prevent them from bankrupting you with in-app purchases.

    To set up parental controls, each family member will need to have their own Microsoft account and personal login. Here’s how to add family members (adults, who will be able to see and manage children’s accounts; and children) to your Windows 10 PC.

    Once everyone in your family has their own account and personal log-in, adults can see and manage children’s accounts by opening the Settings menu and going to Accounts > Family & other people and clicking Manage family settings online. This link will take you to Microsoft’s website.

    In the Family section of your Microsoft account, you will see an overview of your family, children and adults. Next to each child account, you will see a list of options and settings, as well as the option to add money to the account so your children can purchase apps and upgrades from the Windows Store. The limits you set for children’s accounts will apply across all of the devices they use with their Microsoft login, not just the device you’re currently using.

    If you want to utilize parental controls, you will need to set them up manually — features like activity reporting, screen time limits, and website blocking are all turned off by default.

    Activity tracking

    To turn on activity tracking, click Check recent activity next to your child’s account and turn Activity reporting on. This will allow you to see which websites your child visits in the Internet Explorer or Edge browser, see which apps and games your child uses while they are logged in, and track how much time your child spends using devices with their personal log-in.

    Activity tracking blocks InPrivate Browsing so your child cannot browse the web in secret, but it does not block — nor can it track — other web browsers such as Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox. If you want to make sure your kid only uses Internet Explorer or Edge, you will need to manually block other web browsers in the Apps, games & media section.

    Web browsing

    If you want to prevent your child from viewing inappropriate websites and/or search content, you can turn on website blocking by clicking More next to their account, clicking Web browsing and then turning on Block inappropriate websites. This blocks adult content and turns SafeSearch on in the Internet Explorer and Edge browsers.

    If you want to make sure certain websites are always blocked — no matter what their content rating is — add the website to the Always block these list. You can also add websites to the Always allow these list, and you can even set up the controls so that your child can only see the websites on that list. To do this, check the box next to Only see websites on the allowed list.

    Again, website blocking will only work on Internet Explorer and Edge — if you let your kid use a different browser, this setting will have no effect on that browser.

    Apps, games & media

    To limit access to apps, games and media, click the More button next to your child’s account, click Apps, games & media, and turn Block inappropriate apps and games on. Microsoft blocks mature movies and games from all children’s accounts by default, but this setting lets you limit apps and games by a specific age (from 3 years old to 20 years old).

    You can also block specific apps and games, regardless of age appropriateness, by going to Recent activity.

    Screen time

    Plenty of parents want to limit their kids’ screen time, and parental controls make this easy. Click Screen time next to your child’s account and turn Set limits for when my child can use devices on.

    There are a couple of different ways you can limit your child’s screen time. You can set active hours (e.g. 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.) or you can block access completely on certain days of the week. You can also set total time limits for each day. These time limits range from 30 minutes to 12 hours (in 30 minute increments), and you also have the option to block access completely or allow unlimited access. Screen time is tied to your child’s account — not to any specific device — so your child will only be able to log in to his or her account for the time you allot, during the hours you set.

    Purchase & spending

    Children’s accounts cannot be directly linked to a money account (such as a credit card or a debit card). If you want your kids to be able to buy apps, games or media, you will need to add money to their account. You will be able to see the purchases they make going back 90 days (any older and you’ll need to log in to their account).

    To add money or check up on what they’ve been buying, click Purchase & spending next to their account name. You can add between $10 and $100 to their account by clicking Add money to their account.

    Find your child

    If your child has a Windows 10 mobile device, such as a phone or a tablet, you can track their device’s location using Find your child. To turn this on, your child will first need to sign into a mobile device (you cannot turn this on from a non-mobile device) and then you can click More > Find [child] on a map and turn Show the location of your child’s device on.

    We’ve looked at the safety concerns of online gaming, but what can we as parents and guardians do to help keep our young gamers safe? Thankfully, it’s nothing too drastic, just a little common sense and a few tips to help out.

    Here are ten tips to help your young gamer get the best from their game of choice, whilst still remaining safe; also how to avoid any conflicts that may arise from the gaming community.

    Tip 1 – Parents, take an interest in the online games that your child plays. See what type of game it is and especially see what the online community is like. View the in-game chat, and read the game’s forum if it has one to gauge the type of gamers who play it.

    Tip 2 – Make sure that game your child is playing is age appropriate. Whilst it’s fun and exciting being nine and playing an 18-rated game, there’s likely to be content within that may upset or offend. There’s a reason certain types of game have an age restriction.

    How to keep your child tech safe

    Tip 3 – However tempting it is to buy an on-game item or DLC, it’s not always the best idea. Items like this can be a lure for you to buy another and another, until the cost mounts up and you’ve racked up a game bill in the hundreds. Check to see if there is a parental purchase lock in the game if it is something has required payment information entered previously.

    Tip 4 – Not everyone in the game is going to be the same age as your child. There are some people who are much older and who like to pretend they’re a young person. Explain this so your child isn’t so easily fooled into becoming a friend with just anyone who’s playing with them. They can enjoy the game, and playing with others, but discourage any out of game communications.

    Tip 5 – Make sure your child understands to never give out any personal details into an in-game chat window, via the headset or in a game’s forum. These places are ideal hunting grounds for those who want to use that information to their advantage. Make sure their in-game username isn’t linked to them in real life too.

    While Apple’s iPhone and iPad can be entertaining devices for kids, ensuring some basic features can help keep your devices safe from and for children.

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    Setting downtime for app usage will help block access after certain timings. | Photo Credit: Reuters

    While Apple’s iPhone and iPad can be entertaining devices for kids, ensuring some basic features can help keep your devices safe from and for children.

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    Earlier in December, a six-year-old child in the U.S. state of Connecticut spent more than $16,000 (₹11.8 lakhs) on in-app purchases in Apple’s App Store. The child was using his mother’s iPad to play games and had bought add-on boosters in multiple transactions, according to the New York Post.

    While Apple’s iPhone and iPad can be entertaining devices for kids, ensuring some basic features can help keep your devices safe from and for children. Here’s how you can do it:

    Set a passcode

    Setting a 4-digit or 6-digit passcode for your device will help restrict access to children. Apple also supports Face ID to unlock the device by recognising the right person’s face.

    Enable Restrictions

    You can restrict access to certain apps via Apple’s dedicated ‘Restrictions’ feature. Tap on Settings > Screen Time > Content & Privacy Restrictions (available in latest iOS 14.2). You can also enhance privacy by disabling location sharing, advertising, and passcode changing.

    Alter App Store settings

    Disable automatic in-app purchased by clicking on the ‘Restrictions’ tab. Make it mandatory for your device to ask for the password before making transactions. Alternatively, avoid saving payment details like credit card number to prevent unnecessary online purchases. You can also disable auto-download of apps from the App Store.

    Regulate screen time

    Setting downtime for app usage will help block access after certain timings. The app will be unlocked for use only after the scheduled hours.

    Preventing web content

    Apple can automatically filter website content to limit access to adult websites in Safari browser and other apps. You can also add specific websites to an approved or blocked list, or you can limit access to only approved websites. Go to Settings > Screen Time > Content & Privacy Restrictions > Content Restrictions > Web Content to access this option. You can also restrict Siri web search through this setting.

    Restrict Game Center

    Game Center is Apple’s dedicating online gaming features that lets you play games and interact with other gamers. The Content Restrictions feature also helps limit the ability to add friends in Game Center and capture screen recordings during games.

    How to keep your child tech safe

    How to keep your child tech safe

    As kids get ready to return to school, Brian Smith is zeroed in on students’ safety.

    “This is something I’ve been living and breathing for the last probably, 20 months,” said Smith.

    Since the pandemic, he has been acting as the COVID health officer for the Lakeside School in Seattle.

    His number one priority is keeping kids safe.

    “We have a three-prong approach. The first one would be where we do screening testing for every student, the second one was obviously screening, daily health screenings,” Smith said, “The third is contract tracing,”

    The third prong is where Brian says he can give students and parents the most peace of mind. To effectively conduct contact tracing, the school has been using an app from Trace Innovations.

    “All students, faculty, and staff download the app. Then it just runs in the background using Bluetooth gauging their proximity and other members of the community,” said Graham Grieve, who works at Trace Innovations

    Grieve was teaching English in Italy when the pandemic began. Now he’s the founder of Trace Innovations.

    “And if someone tests positive, or even reports symptoms to the school nurse, then the school nurse can go into the dashboard, change the individual’s status, and immediately you can see all close contacts within a matter of seconds,” he said.

    His first thought as a teacher was that losing in-person education would have a dramatic impact on students.

    “We set out to protect that in-person education. Looking at the different health and safety protocols that schools would be using to n, contact tracing had the most holes in it. With traditional method contact tracing, you’re relying heavily on the individual recollection of students, and we realize that there was a need to provide more reliable information to schools,” said Grieve.

    Trace Innovations’ app is being used by about 30 schools right now.

    The system is easier to use in schools where students are older. like the students at Lakeside, which is grades five through 12 because more kids are likely to have smart devices. But Graham says it’s been used in elementary schools with the devices of staff as well.

    For Smith and the Lakeside community, it’s essential.

    “We have the ability to drill down specifically to a classroom, a hallway, an area where students passed by each other, and we can determine how much exposure there was,” said Smith.

    That level of precision is just non-negotiable for Smith, especially when he thinks about last school year.

    “The cases were spiking as the anxiety level was going through the roof. It allows a lot of my job, to try and keep families keep students as calm as I possibly could so we could do everything possible to get our kids back in class,” said Smith.

    Smith estimates the school did 14,000 COVID tests last school year. They only had 11 positive cases. He hopes by combining Trace Innovations with other safety measures, and their caseload is even lower.