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4 Ways To Protect Your Kids Online After Divorce

It's important to figure out how to make sure they are safe whether you are co-parenting, parallel parenting or even if the other parent is doing none of this with you.
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You got a divorce. Whatever the process, that likely now seems like the easy part. Now, you are co-parenting one or more kids who are likely online, sometimes alone, if they are over the age of, let's say, five years old?

It's important to figure out how to make sure they are safe whether you are co-parenting, parallel parenting or even if the other parent is doing none of this with you. There are many things you can do, right now, while the kids are young, and even if they are teenagers, to help keep them safe online.

First, recognize it's an issue. Pretending your kids can't access a computer or phone, at least some of the time, without you, is naive at best. Instead, set some ground rules in your home, so they understand why you have rules about what they do. When they are at a friend's home, or even at their other home, if they have one, they may understand why limits are not such a bad idea. There are some great resources for parents to comprehend what's happening with kids and the world wide web. Take a look so you can better understand why it's important to pay attention to what they are doing.

Next, talk to your kids and be the role model they need around technology. Take "technology time outs' and set your phones and computer aside for time just to "hang out" and spend family time or even time with friends. Teach them it's ok not to be attached to their device 24/7. Kids learn a lot more from what you do than what you say.

Notice that we haven't even talked about the other parent yet. That's ok. Your first job is to manage what happens in your home. So, how do you know what's appropriate and what's not? You may not need to decide. There are internet filters you can find that help you with that job, much like a nanny, daycare or babysitter might when you are working or just not with the kids. Decide which one works for you and use it like any other tool in your home to protect and help you with your children.

Third, if you have a good co-parenting relationship with your ex, now is a great time to reach out and figure out what they know, if anything about the topic, and collaborate about how you will parent on this issue, even if in a parallel way. Having the same rules in your homes about the internet and technology usage keeps kids safer and sends the best message.

Although this is ideal, it certainly isn't always possible. Whether your ex simply disagrees with your approach or is just determined to ignore anything you say, it can be difficult to collaborate about this or anything, really. Agreeing about how to handle technology can be an exercise in futility. If this is the case, focus on what you can do and not on what's impossible.

If you can, send an email with a business like but friendly tone talking about what you've learned about kids and the internet as well as social media. It can be helpful to cite some resources, as we do here for you, but you certainly don't want to sound as though you are telling them you know everything about the issue or what to do in their home. You can honestly say you've been considering this issue, care about how your kids manage technology and social media, mention any rules their schools prefer, and what you are considering. Solicit their input too. What do they think?

Finally, pay attention to their response. If you ex agrees with you, well, enough said. Happy post divorce to you! If they don't, and in fact tell you they prefer no monitoring of technology or social media at all, remember that you can control what happens in your home. Use this as a learning opportunity to teach your kids your values and the why behind the safeguards, even at the youngest of ages. After all, as your kids get older, much of their time spent with technology will not be with filters or you hovering over their shoulder. Teaching them now how to manage technology and social media everywhere they are helps them in the long run too.

Naturally, as your children get older, you allow more privileges in every area, including technology and social media. Explain why this is the case. You can't decide what happens in their other parent's home, but you can lay the groundwork to allow them to make good decisions on their own. Certainly this approach is less than ideal. But, so much of parenting, even in households without divorce, can be that way too. What matters is your willingness to continue the conversation with your child and help them decide what allows them some fun and freedom while protecting them too.

It will likely be ok if you continue to pay attention, live by the rules you apply for your children (with an age appropriate upgrade for you, of course) and listen to their feedback too. Ultimately, your children learn by example. Caring enough to pay attention, talk to them, and give them the comfort of a household secure with boundaries leads the way to successful adulthood, whether parents are married or divorced. Embrace the opportunity to guide and learn from your kids too. Now, stop reading this and enjoy some Netflix! You deserve it.

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