That Momo Challenge thing is getting a lot of attention. I’ve read and heard that it’s probably a hoax. And whether it is or not, it has been the catalyst for needed conversations about whether parents are aware of what kids are into on the internet.
It’s not just the parent’s problem, it’s the grandparent’s problem, too. I only have 2-year-old grandchildren at this point and they are already interacting with the internet. They LOVE to get in my bed, eat pretzels and watch YouTube videos of Blippi. Although that may seem innocent enough, YouTube will cut in with commercials for movies that are for adults. They will flash scary or sexual scenes that I don’t want my grandkids seeing. When we are out shopping, I have found that a video or toddler game on my phone will quickly and efficiently fend off a meltdown and those commercials are still there.
“Being a grandma in this Momo world means that I have to pay attention and take precautions to protect my grandkids while they are with me.”
To be quite honest, I had to stay on top of things so much as a parent, that it makes me tired to think about having to learn new technology and stay up on current trends and dangers. I like being able to just relax and not worry about all that parenting stuff these days. I like the grandma gig where I can have fun and send them home and all the serious stuff is not my job.
However, when it comes to the internet and technology at my house, it really is my responsibility to keep them safe when they are with me.
“Just like putting up a baby gate on the stairs or railing around a deck, I need to set online boundaries and set up cyber barriers to keep my grandkids safe.”
I don’t think we can get around it. I mean, even if I don’t want to put in the time and effort to make sure that my grandkids are safe when they are at my house on the internet then I have to put in the time and effort to make sure they have activities to keep them off the internet. Unfortunately, there will still be those down times when they will want to get online because I don’t have the energy to go as much as they do. And there will be times where your nerves just can’t handle hearing “Baby Shark” one more time! You will want to cut them loose to watch things on their own.
So, what can a Grandma do in this Momo world?
- Talk to your own kids about what they do to protect your grandkids. Your own children are the best resource because they are on the front lines. Your kids really do know their children better than you do, so it’s best to let them guide you in how to protect your grandchildren.
- Put up some cyber barriers. Get familiar with the parental controls on your cable box and within the apps on your tv, computer and phone. If your grandkids get on your computer, then look into installing some filtering software and set parental controls within your computer. If you have gaming systems, do the same there.
- Set up some online time boundaries while your grandkids are at your house. Create screen-free times such as meal times and bedtime.
- When it comes to online activity, because it can be so unsafe, make sure you enforce the parent’s rules at your house. We all know how grandkids like to try to get away with stuff at Grandma’s house and we like to let them! Eating candy and staying up late is one thing, but unmonitored internet use is like playing with fire.
- Become familiar with popular apps and social media sites.
- Talk to your grandkids (and you may be able to get more info out of them than even their parents) about what they do online. What apps do they use? How do they keep up with their friends, etc?
- Do an online search and read articles about how to protect your kids while they are online. There’s a lot of great info out there like this article here.
- Teach your kids that there is more to do with a phone than get on social media. Download a tree identification app like Leafsnap and go for a hike. Teach them how to take and edit photos with a photo editing app like My Little Guy Photobooth.
- The most effective protection, in my opinion, is to be present. Watch tv with them. Get involved with their online activity. Play video games with them. They have limited time with you, so spend your time together. They will less likely get into online trouble if you are right there beside them.
“The most effective protection is to be present.”
I followed my own advice and asked my daughter-in-law what she was doing to protect my 2-year-old grandson while he uses the internet to watch his favorite shows. She told me this:
- There have been so many disturbing things pop up while watching YouTube kid’s shows that she has almost abandoned it and has now subscribed to Amazon FreeTime app. It’s $2.99 a month for Prime members and there are books and videos available. It includes some of my 2-year-old grandboys favorite shows such as Daniel Tiger, Sesame Street, and Curious George.
- Even though my grandson can’t use the tv remote yet, she has taken advantage of parental controls on her tv.
- She limits his screen time.
- She said the best thing she can do to prevent him from seeing scary things that might pop up is to watch tv and shows on the phone WITH him.
I hope that helps a little. Feel free to leave a comment and let me and my readers know what you have done at your house to protect your grandkids while they are online.