The internet is, unfortunately, a dangerous place. Sexual predators and bullies frequently use the internet to target innocent youngsters. Sites exhibiting graphic violence and/or pornography abound and it is not uncommon for children to accidentally stumble onto these sites. Explore our Top Five Tips for Online Safety for Kids Now!
Thankfully, there are measures that concerned parents can take to protect their children and keep them safe online. Following are five simple yet effective tips for online safety for kids that will enable children to use the internet with little to no incident.
Tips for Online Safety for Kids: Supervise
Young children should always be supervised as they use the internet. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Shared Hope International recently noted that up to 29% of parents let their kids use the internet with no restrictions or supervision. Needless to say, such children are extremely vulnerable to those who would prey on them unawares.
Tips for Online Safety for Kids: Promote Honest Communication
It is impossible for parents to see and know about everything a child may do or say online. Even parents who provide proper supervision will find that children can and sometimes do get around this supervision, i.e. by using the computer at a friend’s house, getting online when only a babysitter is home, etc. This is why establishing an open line of communication is important. Naturally, children will not want to tell their parents that they broke the rules; however, these same children need to be able to talk to a parent if they have been bullied, and asked to provide nude images.
Make it easy for kids to come to you when they have messed up. Congratulate them for being honest, answering their questions and addressing their concerns. When warranted, speak to law enforcement officials regarding the online incident.
Tips for Online Safety for Kids: Use Internet Filtering Software
Internet software can help block out sites that children have no business seeing. While such a program should never be used in place of parental supervision, it can and should be used alongside it. Do some research and find a program that is easy to install and use, does not clash with the computer’s operating system and/or other installed programs and provides a proper level of filtering.
Tips for Online Safety for Kids: Say no to Social Media (For Kids Under the Age of 13)
There is a reason that Facebook (and some other social media sites) do not allow younger children to open an account. Children under the age of 13 simply do not have the maturity to handle a social media account and all that comes with it. Encourage younger kids to find other, safer ways to socialize with their friends. Parents who feel that their youngsters absolutely have to have a social media account should bear in mind that in some cases parents can be held legally liable for any content that an underage child posts online.
Tips for Online Safety for Kids: Teach Children to Guard Themselves
This is perhaps one of the most important tips for online safety for kids. Children need to be taught that while there are many good sites on the internet, there are also many bad sites. Teach children to recognize such sites and avoid going to them. Kids who do accidentally stumble onto a bad site should leave immediately.
It is also important to teach children how to deal with online bullying and potential predators. Unfortunately, these issues will arise no matter how carefully you guard your child’s internet access. Teach kids to refrain from answering online bullies, engaging in online bullying and/or passing on comments made by online bullies. Parents also need to teach children how to avoid online predators by never friending or chatting with people online that they do not know in person. Children should also be taught to recognize the behaviour exhibited by a potentially predatory person and report the incident to their parents.
Keeping children safe online is extremely important and the consequences for failing to do so can be severe. While the internet does have its many benefits, it also has its dangers and kids cannot protect themselves from these dangers without help. For this reason, parents must establish internet usage rules and guidelines for their kids, provide proper supervision while young children are online and install a software filtering program that protects kids from getting on bad sites. Even more importantly, parents need to make it easy for children to communicate with them, as this increases the odds of a child reporting something that went wrong online and getting desperately needed help and guidance. Teach children how to protect themselves and remain safe online.