The internet has changed the way we communicate. We’re able to access information quickly and connect with people around the world. But it does have its risks.
Many kids and young people have experienced the internet’s darker side with its inappropriate content, misinformation, and cyber bullying to name just a few. We are faced with the dilemma of how to make sure our kids have a positive internet experience without falling victim to these dangers. To help fellow parents protect our kids, we’ve put together our top tips for staying safe online.
1- Talk to Your Child about Staying Safe
Talking to your child about the dangers of the internet is the best way to keep them safe. Talk to them about what they think is appropriate for children of various ages. Ask them if they’ve ever seen any content they feel is inappropriate or makes them feel uncomfortable. Make sure you have regular conversations with your child, discussing the dangers and linking to the real world.
2- Set Boundaries
When you talk to your child about the internet space, encourage them to help you put a list of appropriate websites together. Agree sites that you are both happy for them to use. You could set rules about the length of time they spend on the internet and ask them to check with you before accessing a new website. Make sure you involve them in setting the rules, and review them regularly. You might even set a date for your next discussion.
3- Teach them about the importance of protecting private information
If they are online you will need to stress the importance of privacy. Make sure they know never to reveal any personal information. Whether it’s a telephone number or address or school details, make sure they know never to give any information away. You could link this to the real world so they are aware of the consequences and dangers that revealing information could put them in. Probably the most important thing is to highlight that they should never meet up with someone they’ve met through the internet.
4- Set up parental controls
Use your Internet Service Provider (ISP) to set up controls that can limit your child’s access to websites, instant messaging and email. Depending on your ISP it’s possible to set up restrictions on what your child can access according to age, time and content. As well as this you can also set up restrictions on your search engines. This means that when your child is surfing the internet, explicit information will be blocked.
5 – Get involved in your child’s internet world
Look at the websites and social media your child is accessing and understand what they do online. Learn more about what’s available and the messages that your child is receiving. If you’re familiar with the latest sites and information, you will have a much better understanding and will be more informed when you chat to your child about the internet.
6 – Be open
One of the most important tips is to make sure your child knows to come to you to report anything that makes them feel uncomfortable. It’s important that they know you will not be cross, blame them or stop them using the internet in future. Protecting your child from the dangers of the World Wide Web may feel daunting but by talking to them and making them aware of the risks, you are helping them to stay safe online.