How to keep your kids safe online.
As your children grow older and more adventurous online, one matter grows increasingly important: how do I keep them safe? No doubt, it’s something you’ve already thought about, but many people are unsure how best to go about it. How protective can you be without being controlling? How can you keep them safe while still letting them be kids, explore, and have fun?
Your children will quickly become well-acquainted with the wonders of the internet. They will find answers to questions that they may not feel comfortable asking their parents. It’ll let them play games and watch their favourite shows. It is an incredible way to learn by accessing information from anywhere in the world.
Unfortunately, however computer-savvy your children may seem, there will still be some things they don’t know. They won’t know about viruses or online scams. They might not have the same sense of caution as in everyday life. With the world at their fingertips, limited experience and insatiable curiosity anything could happen.
Teaching children about these risks falls on us as parents, guardians and educators. We need to protect the children in our care, while also providing them with all the knowledge they need to protect themselves.
Start discussing online safety as early as possible.
One of the most important things you can do is start talking about online safety as soon as your children start using the internet. Not just if/when you catch them doing something which is potentially risky.
Your children will most likely use the computer with you present at first. This is a great opportunity to point out every potential issue that comes up. When you help your child make an online account, teach them the importance of keeping their passwords secret. If they use social media to talk to other children, teach them the importance of not sharing any private information.
Ensure children feel comfortable talking to you.
A vital part of keeping your kids safe online is making sure that they are comfortable talking with to you. You need to be the first person they tell, should something unusual, suspicious or confusing happen while they’re using the computer.
Teach your children to be wary of strangers.
Many adults fall victim to cyber attacks from people pretending to be someone else, so how can we expect children to know any better? Teach your children that the online world is not that far different from the real world. If a stranger offered them candy while they were walking down the street, they would say no. They should learn to treat similar situations online the same way.
Keep an eye on them when you can.
You don’t need to perch, eagle eyed, and watch every single word they type on the computer. Just try to always have a general idea of what they’re up to.
Do not have any bank details saved or any sort of autopay system set up on a device which your children will use. Accidental purchases are incredibly common, and so easily avoided.
Make use of filters.
Parental controls are a handy and effective way of keeping your kids safe online while you aren’t there . These allow you to filter the web and prevent your children from accidentally encountering inappropriate websites. This can be done in a number of different ways, including using the parental controls that are sometimes provided by your computer’s software, using third-party filtering software or setting up parental controls on your network through your router.
Add your kids as “friends” and contacts on social media.
It may not be “cool”, and they may “unfriend” you when they become teenagers, but for now having your children as friends on social media is a good aid to keeping them safe. Being in your kids’ contacts so that you can see their other contacts is a handy way of ensuring they are only contacting people they actually know, without them having to feel like you’re hovering over them all the time.
Being their “friend” online also means you can see what they post in terms of information and photographs. If your children are reluctant to follow this rule, you can consider making this a condition to use social media.
If you wouldn’t do it offline, don’t do it online.
Children may believe that because the online world appears to only exist on their computer, that the rules of the real world won’t apply. What you need to help them understand is that the people they meet online are the same as the people in the real world. The dangers that exist are the same. “Don’t leave the front door unlocked” becomes “don’t tell anyone your password”.
If you teach your child to apply the same standards to safety online as they do offline, their online behaviour will become safer. We don’t go around telling strangers where we live and how old we are in real life, so why would we online?
Online safety is not only an exercise in educating your kids, but one in educating yourself. If your kids begin using a new website which you haven’t encountered before, you need to take the time to learn about it. Once you understand the material yourself, you can better teach your kids how to stay safe in a way they will understand.
Always keep in mind that not all figures of authorities – such as teachers and headmasters – will be able to give your children all of the information they need. Don’t simply assume that if you don’t teach your child something, someone else will.
Let us help.
If you have any additional tips to keep children safe online, let us know and we´ll update this post!