The internet has a lot of benefits for children. It can help them with their studies, and it’s a medium of communication and interaction. It’s also a place where they can enjoy the very latest games and entertainment. Unfortunately, there is a downside that sends shivers down the spines of most parents.
The internet can be a dangerous place for children. Internet safety for kids has become of paramount importance with a number of horror stories about children who have been lured into dangerous places by people they met online.
Because of the presence and benefits that the internet has, it is neither practical nor advisable to ban children from accessing it completely. Therefore, parents must find a way to ensure that their children are safe in cyberspace. Parents must start by having some understanding of technology themselves so that they can teach their children how to take advantage of it without falling into any of its pitfalls. Following are some ways through which a parent can ensure the safety of their children online.
Understand the Devices
It is difficult for a parent to know how to control a device that they do not understand. There are very many devices these days that children can use to access the internet. The parent should understand how smartphones and tablets work, and how their children use these devices to access the online world. They should also understand how laptops and computers work. This understanding will help them to monitor and control their children’s activities online.
Childproof Your Child’s Cyberworld
Parents are already used to childproofing their home in order to ensure that it is safe for their children. The concept of childproofing the cyberworld is similar. It involves using controls and measures that will ensure that their child does not access any websites that are potentially dangerous or that may adversely affect their behavior.
In order to enhance safety on the internet for kids, parents can limit the use of social media networks. It’s also possible to block access to pornography sites and other sites that are undesirable.
There are many applications that parents can use to achieve this. Examples of the best applications for this are Cold Turkey, Family Cyber Alert, Parental Control Bar, and CyberPatrol Parental Controls. If the child has an android device, 1TopSpy is a perfect choice. If they have an iOS device, parents can use curbi or Mobicip apps. This way, the parents can rest easy whenever their children use their devices to access the internet, as they will be sure that the children are locked out from potentially dangerous sites.
Set Boundaries and Guidelines
All parents should set boundaries and guidelines about how much time their child should stay online. This may vary for different children at different ages. They should also teach their children online etiquette (aka digital citizenship) so that they don’t get into trouble because of the comments they make on the internet.
Parents should also talk openly to their child about sites that they should not access. The child should also know what to do in case they come across a site that has content that makes them uncomfortable, which will inevitably happen at some point. Allowing children to contribute to these sorts of conversations can only help enhance internet safety for kids.
Teach Your Kids About Privacy
A major focus when promoting internet safety for kids is around privacy. One of the biggest problems that a lot of children and teenagers have online is over-sharing. It is the job of the parent to teach their children about privacy and how to activate privacy settings on popular sites.
Parents should also teach their children about sharing information, and advise them on the type of information that should be kept private. It is important for children to learn at a very early age that the internet never forgets. Digital footprints last forever, and kids need to understand that what they say online stays online and can come back to haunt them in the future – just ask any politician about this! (Source: http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/aug/11/how-to-keep-kids-safe-online-children-advice)
Learn How To Block And Report
This is a very useful tool that both parents and their children can use in order to maintain safety on the internet for kids. It is especially useful on social media sites, though it can be used on any site. Parents should learn how to block a person who is offensive, and how to report offensive or bad posts or comments. Thankfully this isn’t difficult, even if you’re not at all technical.
Parents should also teach their children about screenshots so that the child can learn how to take them whenever necessary. As with anything, if you don’t know how to take a screenshot just google it!
Develop a Trusting Relationship With Your Child
A large part of ensuring internet safety for kids comes down to the quality and openness of the parent/child relationship. Sometimes a child may be uncomfortable with advances from people online, but they may find it difficult to tell their parents because they are afraid of reprisal. Therefore, one of the best ways to ensure safety on the internet for kids is to develop a trusting relationship with your child.
According to clinical psychologist David Coleman, parents should resist acting on impulse if that means reproaching a child for what they’ve done online. The better response is to approach any issue in a calm manner so that children are not afraid to confide in them in future (Source: http://www.independent.ie/life/family/parenting/dear-david-my-daughter-is-shocked-after-googling-naked-ladies-31150900.html). This way, the child will feel secure enough to report issues, and the parent will have some reassurance that their child will always be safe online.
Final Tip To Enhance Internet Safety For Kids
There are so many activities and applications that can benefit a child online. The perils should not stop a child from enjoying these benefits. According to Kerry Ann Ferreira, the writer of Protecting Our Children in Cyberspace, the best way to ensure that a child is safe online is outlining the ‘rules of engagement’. This way, the child will always have the confidence to know what to do. In case of a problem, they will always feel comfortable enough to report it to the parent for further action