“Mom, please, everyone else has an iPhone!”

Tech for Junior? Veteran cyber cop weighs pros and cons

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – Online child exploitation. It’s a thought parents have to consider when deciding if your kids are old enough to have an iPhone.

Veteran cyber cop and founder of  Cyber Safe Families Mike Lemon says he’s seen these kinds of reports have double since the beginning of the pandemic.

“They were already high to begin with, and that’s when kids were online around 40 hours a week. Now they’re on line around 80 hours a week, and those numbers are just going to continue to go up,” said Lemon.

On the other hand, Lemon says, there are many pros to getting your kids the latest gadgets. iPhones and iPad are a great tool for communication. Also, with the new school semester starting up, even their virtual school work can be a lot easier with a smart device.

When it comes down to it, Lemon believes you know best when your kids are ready for the latest Apple or Android.

He says when the time for tech does come, form a “contract” with your child.

“Kind of think of a playground. ‘These are the rides you can play on. These are the ones you can’t. And these are the people who can be there with you, and these are the people who can’t,” he suggested. “So, establish those guidelines early, and later the fights over technology just won’t happen.”

Most importantly, explain to your child exactly what to do when someone’s online comments just don’t sit right.

“What you go over in the ‘contract’ is that they can come to you and say, ‘Hey, I’ve got a request from strangers or someone’s asking me to send a picture or something I’m uncomfortable with,’ and you’re not going to freak out as Mom or Dad. So, having that ability to have that relationship where they can come to you, you can deal with situations and go forward. Then they’re going to keep coming to you when things go bad.”

Lemon recommends parents use the site commonsensemedia.org to review movies, tv shows, books, apps or games for your children.