In the lives of our children, there has always been technology and the internet. Therefore, they do not approach their interaction online with due care. They see only a screen that reacts to their footsteps, ignoring the dangers in their online navigation.
That does not mean we should scare them. We do not want to cause stress for them and tell them that the internet isn’t a safe place. However, it can be. Children today use the internet throughout their lives. And as parents, we want them to surf the web with safety and confidence and train themselves to learn, improve their communication and have fun!
Below are some safety tips for the safety of our children online:
- Avoid posting personal information online. This includes your full name, your home address, your email address and your phone number. Unless it is a governmental/trusted website.
- Find out where the privacy settings are on each site you use.
- Keep passwords secret from everyone except your parents. If someone asks you for your internet passwords, be sure not to give them and inform your parents immediately.
- Remember that not everyone online is who they say they are online. They may be criminals or people that they know at school that are trying to bully them.
- Respect the views of others.
How much time is too much time online?
Kids are excited about technology. The challenge is to calm this enthusiasm and bring balance so that engaging with the internet does not affect other important areas in the child’s life. There are a number of strategies that can solve the problem, such as agreeing on a working time or using the time limits on the devices, setting a weekly time to use the internet together or removing mobile devices from their room. You could also look at some apps that can help you stay on top of their safety. You can check the websites that they are surfing and you can also track a phone without them knowing. These little steps may feel unnatural at first, but they can be lifesavers. You don’t have to read all the private messages, but rather oversee them, whilst still giving them privacy.
They may be watching things online that you’re not happy about. Filtering options are also provided by websites, e.g. Youtube and the social channels. There are also pages whose content is adapted for children only. To install the filters you will be asked for a password which you must not share or leave written in public view. Parental controls and filters are a good way to protect yourself but you should know that they are not 100% effective. It’s a big help, but not the solution – the solution is ensuring that kids are really aware of these problems and the dangers relating to online browsing. Use restrictions when there isn’t parental supervision.
Education is the best protection we can offer your child. So explain to the child how important it is to reach out to an adult if someone or something on the internet upsets them. Make sure your child can come and talk to you about anything without fear and encourage them to do so. Advise if something strange happens or if someone says something that is inappropriate or worrying, get out of the site immediately and shut down the computer. They should always report these things to you too. There are places online that you can go to.
Keeping the family safe!
Kids can easily be distracted by pop-ups or ads, and with the wrong keystroke they can find themselves in a different online environment without wanting to. They may even follow through on some great offers but be conned and fraud may occur on your account (if they use your credit card to pay). This is dangerous for the whole family and leaves you all exposed to further fraud. Pre-selecting some sites or creating a favorites list is a good way to help them find the content they want without having to search the internet. It is important from the outset that they begin their web browsing to realize that other users may not be what they say and that the friends they make online are virtually unknown. So emphasize to them that their personal data must remain personal, including their name, address, telephone number and passwords. Time to be safe! You can still enjoy browsing the internet and so can your kids, but you need to implement safety first!