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Breakfast at SXSW: Kids and Online Privacy (Part 1)

This past SXSW I had the opportunity to have breakfast with a group of my fave working moms (and dad). These are people I've known for years (some since college!), consider part of my tribe and look to when I need guidance.

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It's not easy balancing (or the attempt to balance) work, life and travel. I even brought my 10 month old with me (broadband baby!) this year, and I wasn't the only one traveling with a baby (as you'll see in the video). Believe me, the "highlight reel" you see on social media doesn't account for the sick baby in the hotel room, spit up on my jacket and countless tantrums (I'm talking about the baby, not me).


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Most of our breakfast, we talked about protecting our kids online. They are digital natives, "online" is part of their lives. Whether it's Roblox on the iPad, smart TVs or voice controlled everything, they are almost always connected.

One of the attendees, Izzie Neis of Mod Squad, grew up like me, in a small midwest town, where she would be gone from morning until sundown in the summer. Our parents didn't worry (and we definitely didn't have cell phones to stay in touch).

Today, that seems to be what I do most of the time. Worry about what my kids are exposed to since technology is everywhere. I'm not sitting around passively. I'm using the time my kids are young to constantly educate myself and develop a tech plan as they grow. I'm sure it will change enumerable time over the next several years, but you can bet I'll keep trying.

My son, who is five, is a gamer. He loves Minecraft, Roblox, Pokemon Go (and countless others). He currently plays games in solo mode, but he's already asked about playing games with his friends (as in a group online game).

We don't allow that, yet, but when he reaches an appropriate age, the first thing I will do is create a private server for him and his friends. I will be moderating and listening and providing any updates to parents (because it will be a requirement).

The moms also offered other great tips for keeping their kids safe, like:

  1. Play the games your kids are playing and play WITH them.
  2. If you'll be checking their online presence, cell phones and/or text messages, let them know.
  3. Educate yourself on what kids are watching and playing, especially the nuances of various games (e.g. different modes in Minecraft).

What are some of your family's best practices for online safety? Tweet me @PRsarahevans and @CoxComm with your best tips.

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