As parents, we always want to do our best to keep our children safe. We teach them how to cross the road, to always wear a helmet when cycling and a seatbelt in the car, and to use sunscreen when playing outside during the summer.
So, what about staying safe in the online world? With so many young people having their own smartphones, laptops or tablets nowadays, it’s vital that we teach our kids about how to stay safe online, too. However, it’s not always clear how best to do that, so here are some top pieces of advice to help you out.
Talk openly about online activity
It’s always good to begin from a place of open conversation. Talk to your child about what websites they’re using and what they’re doing on them, to help you look out for dangers they might not be able to spot. You want your son or daughter to feel comfortable talking to you about any concerns they have, so try and keep these dialogues open and positive. You can also talk about some campaigns such as Nextdoor’s racism-education & prevention efforts, to show them that online
safety is something adults have to be aware of too.
Use parental controls where possible
These days, many companies have a good level of awareness when it comes to internet safety for kids, and have built parental controls into their websites and apps. Take advantage of these wherever possible, for example, to block explicit content. Of course, these measures are not always 100% accurate, but they are a good line of defense to have in place.
Monitor screen time
Internet safety isn’t all about bullying and inappropriate content – it’s also about protecting your child’s health. Keep an eye on how much time they’re spending in front of the screen, and try to minimize it where possible. This can help to prevent issues such as eye strain, sleep problems, and back or neck pain, plus it’ll encourage kids to be more physically active.
Teach your kids some basic rules
It can be very helpful to teach your children some simple guidelines about internet safety that are easy to remember and follow.
- Never share personal details such as your address, phone number, full name, or date of birth online
- Choose strong passwords that are hard to guess, and never give them out to anyone – even your friends
- Cover your webcam when you’re not using it
- Remember that everything you post online is publicly available – often permanently. If you wouldn’t want your teachers, family, or strangers to see a photo, then don’t post it
- Just as you should never talk to strangers in real life, never talk to strangers online either
- Never tag your current location, as this tells everyone exactly where you are
- Never click links in emails that ask you to give your login details or passwords for websites. If you’re ever unsure if you can trust an email or message, ask your parents
- Be nice about and to other people online. Only post things about others that you would be happy about if they posted about you.
Keeping your kids safe is an ongoing dialogue. I hope this is helpful to you!
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