Guest Post – By Monisha Iswaran
We all know the Internet is a fabulous place – there are amazing resources for education, inspiration, creative ideas and more. However in all its glory, let’s not forget the dangers that it can hold in the form of strangers online, inappropriate content and the like. Read on for tips on how to enforce Internet safety for your little ones because at the end of the day, whether they are in a nursery or teenagers – all we want for them is the best.
1) Locate Computers Smartly
If your kids don’t have personal laptops yet, you’re in luck! You still have a great level of control since you determine where the household computers are situated. Be smart about this – have them in central areas so that you can keep one eye on what you’re kids are surfing or watching on the net. They are also less likely to look up inappropriate content in the first place if they know they are under parental supervision.
You may say that it doesn’t matter now that most school kids have mobile devices, or can use computers at their friend’s houses – but it does. Rules within the household are there for a reason, and will eventually result in your children having been raised in a safe and kid-friendly environment, at the very least within the walls of your own home. This will make them more likely to be able to identify dangers out in the real world.
2) Have Rules About Duration
The truth is we all know how addictive the Internet can be. From online games to shopping to social media we all have our kryptonite when it comes to the web, and our children are no different.
As a parent, set house rules such as each child only being allowed one hour on the computer a day. This makes the chances of them getting sucked into detrimental activities less likely, and they will learn to be disciplined when it comes to Internet usage. Additionally, it’s always good to make sure screens are away well before bedtime to ensure a peaceful night’s rest.
3) Open Communication Is Essential
This goes beyond just Internet safety – it really is important for any parent-child relationship, or any relationship at all for that matter. Fostering open communication with your child will mean that they feel comfortable coming to you if they come across something unsettling while exploring the Internet.
Rather than being quick to judge or scold them for being on an inappropriate sight that they probably just stumbled across, be calm and willing to have an open conversation with them about right and wrong. This will also make them less likely to rebel next time your back is turned.
4) Implement Protective Services
If you want to be extra certain that your kids are staying safe so that you can rest easy at night, consider putting barriers in place to certain types of websites so that your child won’t be at risk of accidentally coming across them. Using NetNanny is a great way to do this. This is especially a good idea for younger children who they are less likely to be persistent if they are blocked from a site, and will simply move on without a second thought.
It’s generally a good idea to make sure the Internet service provider you are registered with is family-friendly. You can also adjust your privacy settings to stop your child accidentally sharing location or other personal details with anyone they may come across, or any scammers out there.
5) Make Sure You Know Your Child’s Friends
One of the major online dangers are strangers who are out there to harm innocent people. Children are notoriously naive when it comes to believing people they hardly know. Thus it is important that you keep tabs on who your child hangs out with regularly, so that if an unfamiliar name crops up you can investigate how they know the new friend.
Kids are easily influenced by their environment and the people in it. Who they spend time with can largely reflect how they turn out as a person. As such you want to make sure they aren’t meeting up with people they come across online who may not be who they say they are. Inform your children of how people may be hiding behind a username or even photo that has nothing to do with their actual self!
With a few rules in place, the Internet can be a fun and mostly safe place for your kids. Talk to them about it regularly to make they are being sensible and avoiding cyber bullying, inappropriate content etc. Start surfing smartly with your little ones – and enjoy the ride!