CONTRIBUTED CONTENT — The internet is an ever-present facet of modern life, at times serving as a source of both education and distraction.
As kids return to class or start learning from home, InfoWest is offering several suggestions to help families stay safe, keep focused and start the school year off right.
Stay in control
Skyler Snarr, marketing specialist for InfoWest, recommends creating a “safety zone” for kids browsing at home. If they have a desktop or laptop, keep the computer in an open area so parents can watch over the child’s shoulder if need be.
Because smartphones are easier to conceal – and parents aren’t always around – customizable monitoring programs were created to fill in the gaps.
With FamilyFilter from InfoWest, parents can block inappropriate websites and content, limit access to gaming and set and enforce daily screen time limits by hitting “pause” on specific devices. They can receive notifications when a child’s internet usage doesn’t meet their rules and view reports on screen time and activity.
Launched in 2018, FamilyFilter gives parents peace of mind that when children are online, Snarr said, adding that all the content they see is age-appropriate. FamilyFilter is available as both an add-on to InfoWest plans and a stand-alone service compatible with other providers, including CenturyLink and TDS.
InfoWest can help fulfill that need for speed
Working and learning from home requires a dependable internet connection with enough strength and speed to keep the entire family connected. As more people and devices join a network, the need for bandwidth increases.
Snarr said that 10-15 megabits per second is the minimum required speed for basic browsing and homework, which means large downloads or video conferencing would allow only one device to be used at a time effectively.
“With multiple kids and multiple devices in the house, you’ll want to go with 25 to 50 Mbps to have a reliable connection,” he said.
Before shopping for a new internet service provider or upgrading your plan, Snarr recommends asking two questions to determine what type of connection you’ll need: How many devices will be connecting to the internet at once, and what types of activities are you doing online?
Be SMART about online safety
Snarr said that it’s important for parents to talk to their kids about the risks that come with using the internet and model safe habits with their own online activity.
With this in mind, InfoWest created a pledge that parents and kids can sign together and take the SMART approach to internet safety:
- Safety first: Don’t give out your personal information to people or companies you don’t know.
- Meet and mingle: It’s dangerous to meet up with someone you’ve only had contact with online. Tell someone you trust before meeting.
- Assess before you accept: Accepting emails, files, text and pictures from people you don’t know can be harmful.
- Reliability: Not everything on the internet is truthful. Make sure to check the source of the information before accepting it as fact.
- Talk about it: Tell an adult if someone or something makes you feel uncomfortable.
“These are straightforward standards that everyone should follow,” Snarr said. “They’re the foundations of internet safety.”
InfoWest’s SMART internet safety pledge is available to download and print here.
Disconnect to reconnect
With a world of connections at their fingertips, it can be difficult for kids as well as adults to step away from their screens. A 2019 report by Common Sense Media found that teenagers spend an average of seven hours on their phones daily, with “tweens” ages 8 to 12 not far behind, at nearly five hours.
Although services like FamilyFilter can help enforce screen time limits, Snarr said that the best thing parents can do is take a proactive approach. He advises parents to begin by setting ground rules and standards of what they feel are acceptable amounts of screen time for their children, which can vary by age.
“I think it’s important to hopefully set the foundation and be able to express the importance of family with kids,” he said. “And remember to spend time together without the internet.”
Learn more about InfoWest’s services and community outreach on their website.
Written by ALEXA MORGAN for St. George News.
• S P O N S O R E D C O N T E N T •
- InfoWest | Telephone: 866-463-6937 | Website.
- St. George: 435 E. Tabernacle St.
- Cedar City: 360 W. 200 North.
- Cedar City: 755 S. Main St., Suite 5.
Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.