Screen Time Safety for Kids During Coronavirus

Make sure you have parental controls in place, a digital safety expert told us

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If your kids' screen time restrictions have gone out the window during the coronavirus pandemic, you're not alone.

“I am doing things in my household with tech I never thought I would allow my children to do,” said digital safety expert Katie Greer. “We’re pretty strict on the tech front and for me, forget it, we're in unprecedented times so technology away.”

But Greer, a mother of two working from home, said she hasn't given her kids complete free rein: “While I've definitely loosened up my restrictions with screen time, and allowing them to have access to tablets, and things like that, I haven't totally ignored my rules around safety, and around what my expectations are.”

Her advice? If you've loosened your time limits, don't ignore them altogether. If you have a hard time policing your kids during the day, create a definite "off" time when devices are put away.

Don’t let your guard down. Your grade-schooler may nag you to allow them on social media, but stick to your guns and keep an eye on what they are doing, even during their online school time.

And ask your kids these questions before they post: Would you be okay if you were my age and someone else saw that video? Is there anything embarrassing in there? Did you change out of your pajamas? Is something in the background that you wouldn't want your family or friends or classmates to see?

“It can be a good teachable moment when these things are coming up kind of on the fly, as technology has kind of invaded our homes more and more,” Greer said.

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She also warned parents not to have a false sense of security with school-issued devices.

“Just because it’s a school device, they're on our networks now, and whatever applies to our networks applies to their computers now,” Greer said.

So make sure you have parental controls in place. Call your Wi-Fi provider, tell them your situation and ask how on a network level can you make this more safe for your kids, so that they're not searching certain things, or that certain things will not pop up on their devices, Greer said.

Additionally, make sure privacy settings are set to the strictest level possible for online gaming systems and electronic devices.

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