Children are now born into an internet-equipped world — this technology permeates everything they do, from school to home to play, and perpetual connectivity has caused no shortage of alarm for mindful parents. As computers, smartphones, and other internet-connected devices become more common — it can become difficult for parents and guardians to protect their children from numerous threats on the internet.
There’s nothing wrong with a child having access to the internet because let’s face it, it has its positive impacts like access to a wealth of information and peer-to-peer support, however, the risks it comes with including cyberbullying, addiction, viewing of adult content, and sexual harassment, to mention a few, is what parents need to worry about.
When it comes to children’s online activities, parents and guardians need to make sure their children are protected against contact with undesirable people, inappropriate or harmful content, and malicious software or attacks. However, keeping them safe in the internet playground can be challenging. However, learning a few online safety tips can help keep them safe —and in this article, we share some of those tips:
- Supervise internet usage: Parents should regularly check their child’s internet activities and monitor the sites they visit plus the people they interact with online.
- Use parental controls: Enable parental controls on your child’s devices to restrict access to inappropriate content and limit screen time. Check and choose games, apps, websites, and programs that are appropriate for your children like YouTube Kids. There are always age ratings in App Store for you to check suitability.
- Educate children about online dangers: Teach children about online predators, cyberbullying, and the importance of protecting personal information like phone numbers and addresses.
- Set rules for online behavior: Establish rules for your child’s internet use, such as which site they can and cannot visit, no technology in the bedroom, not sharing personal information, and not talking to strangers online.
- Encourage open communication: Cultivate a relationship where your children can talk to you about internet concerns. Let them know they can come to you if they encounter something online that makes them feel uncomfortable.
- Keep software up to date: Regularly update security software to ensure your child’s device is protected against the latest online threats such as viruses, malware, or spyware, and ensure that you have firewalls turned on to prevent pop-ups and hackers.
- Use it together: Don’t let your young children use the internet in your absence or at least they should do it in the presence of any other adult for example a babysitter. Help them with internet searches, registration, etc.
- Learn everything you can about the internet: We all know that knowledge is power. You should learn everything you can about the internet such that you’re in a position to help your kids know what to do and when as they navigate the internet. From reporting and blocking predators to avoiding malicious links.
- Be a good role model: You should lead by example and this can be done by practicing safe and responsible online behavior yourself. If your children see you being cautious and respectable when you are online, they are more likely to do the same. This includes limiting your own screen time.
In conclusion, kids are growing up in a world that’s cybercentric. It’s impossible to avoid children’s eventual introduction to the internet and all things digital. But it is possible to keep them secure and avoid risks while teaching kids how to be safe online. It starts with the right strategy, limit their access to the internet, be aware of what they see and hear online, and what they share about themselves.