Internet Safety - Protecting Your Child Online
Protect Personal Information
One of the most common ways that children put themselves at risk is by disclosing personal information to strangers online. Take the time to talk with your kids about what sensitive information is and why it should be protected. Review usernames and passwords with kids to make sure they don’t contain information like their name, date of birth, address, school name, or telephone number. These are all pieces of information that predators can use to specifically target your child. Discussing with your children how this information may be used against them or your family is one of our simplest child internet safety tips.
The sense of community and connectedness that can be built through online interactions is one of the most fascinating things about the internet, but it can also be dangerous. Maintaining child internet safety requires that you take the time to learn who your child is talking to or spending time with online. It should be explained to them that not everyone they meet online is who they pretend to be and information posted online is often not true. For that reason, it is critical that your child knows that they should never agree to meet any online friend without your permission. Additionally, it should be noted that cyberbullying is a real problem that kids today are dealing with so you might want to have a discussion with your child about what to do if they are being bullied and how not to be a bully to others.
With the prevalence of social media, children today are constantly sharing information and media with each other. While watching youtube videos or vines of others may be fine, your child posting pictures and videos of their friends could have dire consequences, especially as they get older. Helping your kid understand that in some way, shape, or form anything you online is there forever is crucial to child internet safety. As a result of the immortality of things shared on the internet, have your kids check in with you before posting or sharing any media online. Additionally, it may be worthwhile to talk with the parents of your child’s friends to make sure you have their consent before allowing your kid to posts group photos or videos online and asking that they do the same for you.
For those who are not tech savvy, adding software to your home computers and internet enabled devices may seem like a difficult way to bolster child internet security in your home. However, rest assured, there are plenty of software options for monitoring your kid's activity online that don’t require an IT degree to setup. Some software will allow you to block certain types of sites or provide filtering of web search results while others will send you an email notification if your kid is somewhere they shouldn’t be online. There are also often options for limiting a child’s access to the computer, smart device, or the internet to certain times of the day so you can more easily monitor what they are doing.
Make Them Feel Comfortable
The ability to have an open and honest discussion about your child’s online activity may be the most important factor in promoting child internet safety. Developing a high level of rapport requires your child to be comfortable talking to you about what they are doing online and things that they may have seen or had happen to them. Ultimately, you want them to come to you immediately if something or someone online makes them feel uncomfortable. You also want them to ask permission before downloading/installing software, engaging in new online behaviors, or joining social media platforms. One of the easy ways to start building that kind of relationship is to show interest in the things they like to do online. Let them teach you new things about the internet and how to have fun online so you get to know a bit more about your their interests and where potential pitfalls may lie.