For a child, the Internet is a magical place. It answers any obscure questions they may have, provides printable templates of any picture to colour, and offers many interesting videos. Viruses, phishing, social networking etiquette, and online privacy are all issues that children know nothing about. That’s why they may fall prey to online predators and jeopardize their own safety. So the question many parents ask is, how can you maintain child safety online? Teaching children how to stay safe online, setting rules for going online, and restricting the use of smartphones, tablets, or laptops to a certain time of the day are things every parent should pay attention to. Parents need to learn useful tips about child safety online, and they need to teach their children about Internet security in a simple and interesting way that can be easily understood and accepted by a child.
Discuss Child Safety Online at an Early Age
The most important and fundamental rule to ensure child safety online is to discuss it with your children as soon as they are old enough to understand what you are saying. Make sure your child understands that the virtual world is like the real world in terms of safety. Explain that they can be exposed to safe and unsafe incidents online as well as offline. The good thing is that there are certain guidelines that can protect us in the real world; the same also applies to the world of the Internet.
Start early and educate your child about the idea of using sensitive passwords as a method of child safety online. In addition, advise them to use long passwords, ones that are easy for them to remember and difficult for others to crack. Using different passwords for multiple accounts (email, Facebook, or Twitter) also helps in boosting child safety online.
Be Open and Understanding
As a parent, you should talk to your child about the dangers of the Internet and the importance of child safety online. Talk to them about ‘safe’ websites that they can use, and regularly remind them of some web pages that can redirect to other unsafe websites. It is also important to learn more about the issue of Internet safety in terms of ensuring that your security systems are up to date and running a network scan to identify malware and viruses.
Explain Right from Wrong
Setting boundaries and rules for going online can be seen as restrictive for a child. However, when they understand what is appropriate and what is unacceptable, they will be free to choose the websites they want to navigate. In other words, let them understand that boundaries bring freedom not restrictions as they may think. Make sure that you also show them ways to prevent unsuitable content and teach them how to be aware of the dangers of the Internet. As they realize the risks they might put themselves in if they start a conversation with a stranger or choose to post personal information in public, they will be able to freely decide how to behave, which will lead them to behave more appropriately when they are online.
Teach Your Child to Choose What to Post
Tell your child to be careful of what they do or say on the Internet, as one day their actions or conversations might come back and cause them trouble. In many cases, employers and university admission offices look at social media profiles to check the content candidate’s posts or shares. So, it is better to protect your child at an early age and make sure that they realize every action is captured and might haunt them in the future.
Also, explain that they should be careful of what they expose out there and only limit information to a certain number of people. Let them check privacy settings and use long, sensitive passwords to protect their privacy and boost child safety online.
Teach Your Child to Take Your Permission
It is better that the child takes your permission before they post pictures, give out personal information, download or install software programs. The intention is not to interfere; on the contrary, it is to help your child decide what is appropriate or inappropriate to share. Explain that, in order not to be hurt or jeopardize the family’s privacy, it is important to follow Internet safety rules and avoid giving out personal information or meeting a stranger in a public place.
Ask your child to constantly get you involved and approach you in case they see anything online that they feel uncomfortable about. You can also set a wi-fi passcode so that every time they want to have access to the Internet, they will need your permission first.
Apply Offline Standards to the Online World
Encourage your child to apply the same safety standards they apply in the real world to the Internet. Would they talk to strangers or tell about their deepest secrets if they met someone they do not know in the real world? Tell them if they think it is not appropriate to do that outside, then it should not happen when they are online. The key is to apply the same standards and be sensible and cautious of who they talk to or what they say online.
Teach Them Simple Safety Rules
As a parent, you need to first understand simple child safety online rules before you can teach them to your child. Children like it simple and fun, and they like secrets too. Keep your rules simple and teach them about the dangers of the Internet in a fun, interesting way. You can use webcomics, materials, or images to explain the importance of child safety online and show the use of passwords as “secrets.” Remember that children are very fond of secrets. Also, encourage your child to approach you if they do not feel comfortable about anything they see online. The key is to show your children you trust them and to have open communication with them.
Keep Data Secure
It is not enough to have an open discussion about child safety online; it is also essential that you keep online data secure by knowing how Internet-connected devices work and checking that your system security software is up to date. In addition, encourage your child to delete and avoid forwarding files or messages they do not feel comfortable about. You also need to teach your children about the importance of having passwords and keeping their personal information private to ensure child safety online.
Be Friends with Your Child
Social media is now becoming more popular than ever. Therefore, you might as well want to be on your child’s friends list. Becoming friends with your child will give you a better chance to monitor posts and comments they are sharing with their friends. Your child might not agree to have you on their list, but you can make it a condition for them to have access to their Facebook or Twitter accounts.
Understand the Message of Being Safe
It is important to trust your child and keep a personal space. However, it is also important for them to understand the message of being safe online and the importance of following Internet rules to increase child safety online. Always remind them that the target is to keep them safe and not to interfere.
Go Beyond Old Security Rules
Children, nowadays, use more smartphones and tablets than personal computers. That’s why you need to go beyond old PC security rules and learn other ways to prevent unsuitable content or access to inappropriate websites. That can happen by looking for installed applications on their smartphones or tablets, reading about those applications or services, and investigating the matter properly.
It might not be easy to choose which guidelines or rules to follow; however, the key point is to trust your child and talk openly about the importance of child safety online. Children, on the other hand, are more likely not to apply safety standards given their trusting nature and high sense of curiosity. They want to explore and not be cautious. But, when they are more aware of the perils of the Internet and realize its dangers, and child safety online they can use their common sense rather than being told what they should or should not do. This way, they can learn more about the benefits of the Internet and use it for fun or education. Moreover, understanding guidelines for child safety online will also encourage the child not to engage in cyberbullying or do anything online that is against the law.