The steps you can take to ensure that your children en la familia are safe and act responsibly in today's digital world will vary dramatically on how old they are and how much exposure they have to technology.
But if your children are still young, and they are starting to show an increasing interest in gadgets, games, and the Web, then it's definitely time to put your digital parenting plan into action and connect with la abuela y las tías so everyone gets on the program!
Here are 10 tips to help you get started:
1. Get In The Game! Make an effort to understand the basics of the technology that your child is (or will be) using on a daily basis. Technology is such a big part of kids' lives that no parent can afford to just step away from their responsibilities in this area.
You may be doing a fantastic parenting job in all other aspects of your children's lives, but without understanding at least the basics, you cannot be part of their ever-expanding digital world. It's not difficult to grasp some fundamentals and get up-to-speed. Plus, it's fun and educational -- that's why your kids love it so much!
2. Open a dialogue. Talk to your kids about technology and in particular about Internet safety. Agree on a set of rules for using the computer and going on the Internet. Surf the Web together. Stay involved; your child's tech and online activity will increase and become more complex as they get older and technology continues to evolve. Keep the conversation going.
3. Be informed. Know what technology your child uses, what games they play, which web sites they visit, and with whom they are communicating. For young children, give them an approved list of web sites.
4. Be interested. Ask your child what he is doing, what programs he is using, what sites he's visiting. Ask him to show you how his tech toys work and what he and his friends do with them.
5. Help your child understand what inappropriate behavior is. If you or your child encounters inappropriate behavior -- whether it's violent video games, cyber-bullying, or online predators -- don't just let it go. Act on it, whether it's talking to your child, bringing the subject up with another child's parents or reporting it the appropriate authorities.
6. Buy a family computer and keep it in a public place in the home. Encourage your children to regard it as a resource for everyone to use. Give each of them separate IDs and passwords, so they have a sense of ownership and privacy.
7. Never give out personal information over the Internet. Explain to a child that he or she must never give out personal information. Family e-mail addresses, phone numbers, names, birth dates, home addresses, family details, photos, etc. should all be jealously guarded. Although social networking sites ask for and encourage sharing this information, your child should know that protecting his own and his family's identity should be one of his top priorities.
8. Empower yourself. Use Internet filtering or monitoring software. You don't have to check in on what your child is doing every day, but the fact that you can -- and they know you can -- helps set the right tone for responsible behavior.
9. Teach your children not to open unknown or suspicious files. Help your child understand what a suspicious file looks like.
10. Talk to other parents about your children's technology experiences and online safety. Form a network of other concerned parents. And as always in a Latino family, make sure that you lay down the law when your nieces, nephews and others are at your house. We educate everyone's child -- and that's a distinction of Latino families that I love!
Do you have any more tips to share with us?
Follow Monica J. Vila on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@theonlinemom