The internet can be a great tool for kids. It can help them with their homework, entertain them on rainy days and allow them to connect with friends outside of school. Unfortunately, there is a dark side to the web that can have a damaging impact on children and teenagers. Learn to protect your kids from the more sinister side of the internet with these simple steps.
Have An Open Conversation
Before you give your kids their first smartphone with internet access or allow them to use a laptop or tablet, have an open conversation about internet safety. If your kids are old enough to open social networking accounts, make sure that they are fully aware of all of the safety risks involved in posting personal information online.
Supervise them as they set up their accounts so that you can monitor what information is shared- for example, don’t allow them to put their address, phone number, age or other personal information in the public domain. Try to explain clearly to your children exactly why you are forbidding certain activities- nobody likes to be told what to do without being given a reason, especially kids.
Because the internet is full of inappropriate content that your child may stumble across, encourage them to come to you if they see anything that disturbs or confuses them. Explain that they will not be punished for talking to you about things they’ve seen online- hopefully this will open up a dialogue between you and your children and make them feel comfortable being honest with you.
Filter Your Content
There are ways to control what information and images your child is exposed to online, although this will become more difficult if they’re accessing the internet through phones and tablets. If you have a family laptop or desktop computer that your kids use to play games or research topics for homework, you can set up web filters that block out inappropriate content when your child is online. This software will send you a list of the websites that your child has visited so you can monitor their activity and can filter their search results based on certain keywords.
If you decide not to install special software to monitor your kids online, you can still take a look at what sort of content they’re viewing. Check the search and web history of your computer whenever your kids have been online to ensure that they’re keeping themselves safe online. You may have concerns about invading your child’s privacy, but their safety should always be of the utmost importance.
Be Aware Of The Dangers
The most important thing that you can do as a parent is to be aware and alert when it comes to online safety. Many parents with teenagers may feel that their child already knows more than they do about the internet- it’s important to keep yourself educated about what sort of threats are out there and how you can work on preventing them.
Read up on web safety and keep an eye on which apps and websites your child frequents so you can be aware of what dangers they could present. Awareness and knowledge is always the best defence.