The internet is a wonderful tool for children and adults alike, giving access to a variety of websites that educate and engage users. As adults, we’re comparably more aware of the dangers that unrestricted access to the Internet can cause – it is crucial that children are educated on the same. Awareness is key to prevention; start by having a simple conversation with your child about the internet and basic safety measures. Emphasize on internet safety being a priority and a necessity while they use the internet along with the potential risks involved. When they understand and are informed of the potential danger lurking on the internet, they can actively avoid making bad decisions.
Giving them a brief on online predators and hackers, and how to best avoid being preyed on is essential. As a parent, your first step is to educate yourself prior to expecting your child to be safe on the internet. When you’re well-versed with internet accessibility and safety, it becomes easier to explain the same to your child as well as to put down boundaries or limits that are reasonable for both parties.
If you’re unsure of where to begin, we’ve got a few cyber safety tips for parents to guide their children with, so as to ensure safe internet usage for their child:
- Caution your child against giving out personal information: Giving out details like their school, their home address, their phone number, their passwords and other personal details make it easier for internet predators to find your child’s identity. It puts your child’s everyday life in danger, especially if child predators are able to track your child’s movements. It is important to make your child understand that not everyone on the internet has good intentions.
- Advice your child to keep their online accounts private: If your child wishes to create an account on a website for access to games, or to engage in conversations with their friends, tell them it is recommended that they keep their profile private in order to retain personal information. A public account can give online predators easy access to your child’s information.
- Avoiding cyberbullying: Users on the internet will often take advantage of your child’s innocence and naivety to cyberbully them. They will attempt to degrade your child and belittle them using harsh words, which will have a lasting impact on your child’s self-esteem. Persuade your child to avoid/ignore harmful messages from other users, and to avoid harmful messages about others as well. Ensure you’ve always got an open channel of communication with your child, so they feel comfortable enough to come to you in case they’re targets of cyberbullying.
- Educate your child on the difference between appropriate and inappropriate content: If your child accidentally stumbles upon inappropriate content like graphic images, advise them to seek out a trusted adult – like you, your spouse, or a teacher – so that they can take the necessary precautions to block the site and prevent your child from accessing it again. To avoid situations like that from happening, parental controls can be installed as well. Explaining the difference between explicit content and regular content is necessary for your child to be able to make safe judgements.
- Prevent your child from meeting up or sharing information with ‘online’ friends: Ensure that your child knows the difference between real-life friends and online friends. Put down a general rule about your child only associating with people they have met in real life on social media accounts. Whilst playing online games, indicate that no personal information or links to social media profiles can be given out to an online stranger.
As your child grows up, it becomes increasingly difficult to regulate their internet usage, especially once they get their hands on a smartphone. Therefore, it’s crucial when you approach your child with a conversation on cyber safety that you talk to them maturely and clearly. Your child will feel better knowing that it is out of your concern towards their safety and not to prevent them from “enjoying” the internet. Keeping an open line of communication with your child when it comes to their internet usage will work wonders on ensuring their safety and preventing them from being exploited by predators.
Several companies, such as Norton, offer internet privacy services to ensure a safe and secure browsing experience for your child. It will protect your child’s and your device against computer viruses from unknown websites and online threats.