The facts are staggering: one in three children have been a victim of cyber bulling and one in four children have watched porn by the age of twelve. In the UK, ChildLine held over 11 000 counselling sessions with children who had negative experience online in 2016. Thus, the question emerges, how do you keep your child safe online?
Keeping your child safe online – what you need to know
There isn’t one magical corrective measure you can implement that will suddenly keep all children from the horrors they might be exposed to on the digital space. Even Wonder Woman cannot stop how others infringe on children’s cyber rights. Thus, we’ve scoured the internet to find precautionary tips you can put in place and apply to keep your child safe online.
Tips on keeping your child safe online
PARENTAL CONTROL SETTINGS
The truth is, you cannot control the internet or what happens on the digital space. However, can control what your child’s device can access. Devices and search engines such as Google are aware of the escalating cybercrimes, including cyber bullying, and they allow you to tailor parental settings to suit your child.
NEVER BROWSE THE INTERNET UNACCOMPANIED
It’s a bit stringent, but the truth is kids are inquisitive and they may end up finding creative ways to bypass parental control settings. A good strategy is to enforce a rule that doesn’t allow your child to use the internet unaccompanied – at least until they are old enough to know better. If you’re feeling particularly sneaky about it, you can even set whatever devices you have to forget wi-fi passwords.
Don’t put off discussing online safety with your children. Start with small safety guidelines and teach your children about the importance of online safety while they are still young. As they grow older and start their own social media accounts, expand on their knowledge, inform them about online etiquette and teach them the good, the bad and the ugly of the digital space.
SHOW AND TELL
Children often imitate what their influencers do. In this regard, when discussing internet safety, it is imperative that you not only tell them what to do, but show them how to do it. Get them involved when installing new internet security and anti-virus software as well – this will illustrate how important these safety measures are and that they are crucial for a happy online experience.
BEWARE OF ONLINE ‘STRANGER DANGER’
The ‘stranger danger’ rule applies online as much as it does offline. As you would explain the concept of a stranger that intends to do you harm in the physical world, explain to your children that there are similar people that operate through the internet, so be sure they know what to look out for and what to do in a ‘stranger danger’ situation. Hand-in-hand with this, though often a little less malicious, is pop-up ads and websites. Coach your kids through the steps they can take if they are faced with this situation and let them know the consequences.
WHAT YOU WRITE ON THE INTERNET IS PERMANENT
The general rule here is: don’t do or say anything online you wouldn’t do or say face to face. Teach your child to be gracious with words on the digital space and emphasise that what is shared on public domain leaves a permanent print. This is especially important when your child starts developing an interest for social media. Teach them about the adverse consequences of sharing things that could harm their reputation and character.
Though these are not the only tips you can apply when trying to make internet usage safe for your children, they are a good place to start. What is crucial to understand is that it’s never too early or too late to start educating your children on using the internet safely – it’s about protecting your child from the antagonists of the internet.