The internet is a great resource for adult and kids alike, but there are a number of websites that are not suitable to children and there are many ways for criminals to conduct their misdeeds. That is why it is important to know 5 ways to safeguard your kids online so that you can let them browse with peace of mind.
Many kids these days are far more technology-savvy than their parents, but this does not mean that they are able to distinguish between good and bad over the internet. Cyber bullying and “sexting” (sending provocative messages over the internet) are prevalent on the internet, as well as scams and criminals who try to con people out of their money (and even their lives!).
Parents need to protect their children online by providing advice and setting certain ground rules and parameters.
1. Remind your kids that their online actions have consequences
The best advice you can give your kids is not to post anything you wouldn’t want your parents or a predator to see… because they can see it. You can also advise them not to say anything online that they wouldn’t say to someone in person. The internet is not a place of anonymity and what kids post online can have offline consequences. Encourage your children to use appropriate language and pictures and to be polite online.
2. Help kids with their privacy settings
Kids must realize that some information should remain private, such as phone numbers, addresses, private information about friends and family, and the financial situation of the family. Tell your kids the dangers of exposing this information. If your kids don’t know how to do this already, show them how to adjust their privacy settings on social networks so that access to their profiles and information is limited. Tell them to limit what they share – just because it has been deleted off their profile or computer, it doesn’t mean that someone else doesn’t already have the information.
3. Install a monitoring program
New monitoring software doesn’t only monitor the computer used at home, but can also keep track of online posts and communication that your kids make on social networks from other computers, laptops, and even from smartphones and iPads. This allows parents to exercise a measure that supervises and controls their kids’ activities online. There is a catch, however. To avoid privacy issues, many of these programs will be noticeable on the phone screen or computer desktop, and some require the child’s consent. This leads to the next of the 5 ways to safeguard your kids online…
4. Talk to your kids about internet safety
The best way to promote safety about the internet is to be honest and open about your concerns; you don’t want to have to resort to spying on your kids. Explain the dangers of internet usage, the possible consequences of doing or saying the wrong kinds of things online, and why they make you worried. If you are using monitoring software, let your kids know why you are doing so. Talking to your kids will also give you information about the websites they use, allowing you to provide safety information regarding the sites they visit.
5. Monitor and control the amount of time your kids spend on the internet
The more time your kids spend on the internet, the more likely they are to come across unsavoury or dangerous situations. Be reasonable, but make sure that your kids spend as much time engaging in real-time interaction as they do online as this is important for their social development. It is unhealthy for kids to sit in front of a computer all day, so encourage other activities away from a computer screen. One way of doing this is to have capped internet, meaning that you are only allocated a certain amount of internet usage per month. This will encourage children to use the internet only when necessary.