8 Great Summer Safety Tips for Tech-Savvy Families
**This blog post was updated on July 8, 2021**
Remember summer safety tips from back when you were growing up? They usually revolved around waiting an hour after eating to hit the swimming pool or making sure to be home before the streetlights came on. These tried-and-true pointers still apply today, but there’s even more that families have to consider thanks to the incredible access to technology that most kids have. Online safety in the summer months means also making sure tech habits are in order and healthy boundaries are set. In this blog post, we’ve got eight ways to help keep your kids a little safer while school’s out.
Keep Track of Your Kid’s Digital Location
During the school year, there’s usually no question about where your kids are during the day. Classes, clubs, and sports keep them occupied and generally in the same location. But during the summer, there are sleepovers, visits to the pool, trips to the movies, and countless other warm-weather activities. To get peace of mind while your kids are roaming about, you can use Google Maps, Apple Maps, or if you have Bark, our handy location check-in feature.
Try to Limit Screen Time
Kids may think the hours they couldn’t use their phones while they were in class may suddenly become fair game during the summer. But creating chunks of time where their phones are off-limits during the day will encourage them to be creative, play outside, hang out with friends, or even do some chores! Bark’s screen time scheduling features let you set different screen time rules for different times of the day — right down to the minute! Now that’s a summer safety tip.
Be Sure to Set Parental Controls
Help kid-proof the tech in your house by setting parental controls on phones, tablets, games, cable boxes, and more. Barkomatic is great for finding all of these instructions for locking things down — simply select all of the different ways your child accesses the internet and you’ll receive an email with customized results.
Keep an Extra Eye Out for Bullying
Just because kids aren’t in the classroom doesn’t mean they’re not still in contact with each other. In fact, over the summer, kids may only be communicating via email, text, or social media, and this can become a breeding ground for potential drama. Remember, cyberbullying isn’t like the bullying you remember. There are more avenues for kids to harass each other than ever before. And unlike in the past, rumors that get spread over the summer don’t wait until the first day of school to become common knowledge — they can be spread to the whole class within seconds.
Revisit the Family Tech Contract
With less responsibility during the summer, children may expect more relaxed technology rules. Right now is a perfect time to rewrite or revisit your family’s technology contract and make any adjustments to the rules you see fit. For example, if you normally collect your child’s smartphone at 8 p.m. during the school year, you could allow them to have it for an extra hour in exchange for taking out the trash or walking the dog. Also, be sure to share the contract with anyone your kids may be spending lots of time with this summer, including babysitters, relatives, or other caregivers.
Encourage Some Educational Screen Time
Not all screen time is created equal. And while kids have definitely earned some good, old-fashioned veg-out time this summer to spend on YouTube and Spotify, make sure they’re getting some educational scroll-time, too. We gathered 15 of the most engaging and fun-to-use learning apps for kids, covering subjects from math and language to fine arts. These tools will help keep their brains sharp as they prepare to enter the next grade this fall. For even more summer fun, check out some of the suggested activities in our Camp Bark blog post.
Have Your Family Watch This Kid-Focused Video About Online Strangers
Sometimes, seeing is believing — especially for children as they learn about some of the dangers of using the internet. That’s why the Bark team created this video to demonstrate just how easy it is for an online predator to make a fake social media account and pretend to be a child. Watching it will help your kids learn an important lesson: that people really aren’t always who they say they are online.
Check Out Some Fun Digital Citizenship Lessons for More Summer Safety Tips
Free time during the summer is a great time to learn more about digital citizenship. Google’s Be Internet Awesome initiative teaches kids how to be safe, confident internet users. The interactive site has games, videos, and more that are engaging and fun to explore as children learn about safer ways to interact online. Another great resource for summer safety tips is our Safer Internet Day blog post, which provides parents with helpful conversation starters about digital citizenship. Summer is definitely a time for rest and relaxation for kids, but make sure they’re practicing good online habits in their downtime.
Bark is a comprehensive online safety solution that empowers families to monitor content, manage screen time, and filter websites to help protect their kids online. Our mission is to give parents and guardians the tools they need to raise kids in the digital age.