Parents are increasingly getting concerned about the time their kids are spending online and the kind of online activities they are engaged in. And they have all the reasons in the world to get worried. Cyber bullying. Trolling. Objectionable content. Games that could turn fatal. Let’s face it. The internet can be a terrible place for children. There is a dire need for regulating online safety for kids and you as a parent play a huge role in making sure your kids are safe in the virtual world.
Of course, internet is a fantastic tool for education and entertainment. But like any other tool it has its own challenges if not used right. There is no dearth of misinformation flourishing online that could damage their impressionable minds. It is your duty to make your child aware of the dark side of being online and dangers that lurk around.
Don’t know where to start? Cybersecurity experts say: start early. Let’s see how we can teach our tech-savvy kids to get the best out of the internet and still avoid the traps that come along.
- Discuss online safety at an early age
Children today are using internet in their everyday lives and they tend to start early. Chances are your child is already good with an iPad and other forms of internet gadgets. So why don’t you start educating your kids about the dangers lurking in the virtual world as soon as they start browsing? Start talking about safe internet behavior at an early age. The rest of the post explores how parents can inspire their young kids and teenagers to be responsible and make it safe being online.
- Passwords and anti-virus software
- Discuss with your kids how they can protect their private online data by using sensible passwords. Teach them how to make strong passwords that are not easy to guess.
- Install firewall and antivirus software. Makes sure all the software patches run on time.
- Set up parental controls on user accounts. You can buy software like Net Nanny that would give you a lot of control in the form of restricting websites and applications they can open and setting up time limits.
- Set rules
It is important to set rules regarding the use of internet. What can you do? Here are some reference points that you can use.
- Set a limit for days and time they can use computers. For example, you can give them an hour each on Mondays, Thursdays and weekends.
- Don’t let them browse on their own if they are too young.
- Make a list of websites they can visit without your permission and also those they can’t.
- Place computers in open or central spaces where you can keep an eye on their online activity.
- Be a part of their social media circle, be it Facebook or Twitter, and keep an eye on their post and pictures. If they resist, tell them this is the only way they can use social media platform.
- If they don’t want you to see a certain post, comment or a photo, tell them in no uncertain terms that it is not meant for other’s eyes either. Kids (even adults for that matter) may feel it safe to indulge in appropriate behavior from a distance, which could turn disastrous.
- Teach your kids to never accept friends request from strangers and how to set their settings so that their information remains private and safe. Demonstrate how they can block someone from their list.
- Kids need to know that whatever they post on the internet is going to be there forever. Ask them not to post anything that they would regret later. Employers now-a-days screen potential candidates by browsing through their social media profiles.
- Teach them not to reveal personal information
You don’t go on and reveal your personal information and secrets to strangers. The same applies in the online world. What are the precautions your kids need to take to maintain their online safety? Tell them to:
- Never share your name, phone number, e-mail address, home address, school name and location without seeking your permission.
- Don’t open emails from unfamiliar email addresses.
- Don’t reply to messages from strangers.
- Don’t arrange blind meetings with people they have met online. If someone asks them to meet in person, they should inform you.
- Have open and friendly conversation
There is no dearth of misinformation flourishing online, not to mention objectionable content and what not. Kids are going to have questions. Be prepared to answer them. Having an open and friendly conversation is also a good time to make them familiar about getting trolled for their remarks or get bullied; and how to deal with all this stuff. Create an environment where they can come to you for advice in case they go through cyberbullying, trolling or exposure to inappropriate content. Like in every situation in life, communication is the key. In a nutshell, be approachable in case they need your help. Parental support plays a huge role in keeping kids safe online.