Any modern parent will know that it’s not unusual to see children as young as toddler age clued into the online world through their parents (or in many cases their own) laptops, tablets, cell phones and computers.
Although such easy access to the internet can provide a fantastic and invaluable educational tool for your children, it can also be very dangerous. Online predators still very much exist, and there are many other internet threats out there such as identity theft, scam artists and hackers. This is why online safety for kids is crucial.
So just how do you protect your children from the various dangers lurking online? Well firstly you don’t have to ban your kids from ever using the internet, as the internet is so prevalent in our society they’ll likely find a way to gain access to it regardless of your ban.
And secondly, there are some very simple but highly effective ways you can adequately monitor your children’s internet use and also shelter them from a multitude of potential online dangers. Here are our top suggestions for how to stay safe online:
1. Invest in Some Parental Control Software
There are many inexpensive internet child protection software and tools available online and some are even completely free to use. Many of these will both let you know what your kids are searching for and looking at online and also prevent them from looking at anything that isn’t age appropriate. These programs will typically block access to adult content, which should ultimately prevent your kids from seeing anything disturbing or obscene online. Parental controls are very adaptable to specific needs as well. It is essentially an internet filter that you are in charge of.
2. Put a Limit on Internet Time
If your kids love to surf the web at home, set a rule of how much online time they can spend each day. This can help you monitor what they look at more easily and prevent your children from becoming addicted to the internet (which is an increasingly common modern phenomenon). Make sure that your kids are in the same room as you when they surf, as you can then keep a close eye on the kind of stuff that they’re looking at. Your kids may feel like their privacy is being a bit invaded, but when it comes to internet safety for kids of any age, it really is better to be safe than sorry.
3. Monitor Their Cell Phone Activity
The chances are your kids will have a cell phone with wifi and data at some point, so it’s important not to forget to monitor this as well. This doesn’t mean you necessarily have to read every single text message they send and receive, but you may want to regularly check their browser history to see what they’ve been up to online. There are even apps that can enable you to monitor your kids’ cell phones which can make the cyber safety process even easier.
4. Report Any Inappropriate Content
If your kids come across obscene content once you’ve enabled parental control or they are contacted by an online predator, it’s vital that you report these. You could go directly to the police or to the site or search engine administrators. This could prevent further children from being exposed and set a good example for your kids. Children shouldn’t have to be exposed to stuff like this, and it’s very much in your rights as a parent to do something about it. This is an internet safety tip for kids, as well as adults.
5. Explain to Your Kids the Dangers of the Internet
It’s essential that you explain to your kids the dangers of the internet so that they know why you’re being so vigilant in internet security and monitoring their online activities. Of course this should be handled delicately, and definitely don’t go overboard in describing internet horror stories, but definitely explain why the internet can be dangerous and how they can avoid encountering these. This will let them know why you’re “spying” on them with internet monitoring software and what red flags they should look out for and ultimately avoid online.
Keeping children safe online is easily achievable if you follow our above suggestions. Sometimes it takes a strict attitude for effective parenting, and when it comes to internet child safety, this is very much needed. Good luck!