As parents, we worry. This is the case for most of us, anyway. We can’t help it, it’s a built in response towards those who you helped to create, cared for and are bringing up. You want the best for them, you want them to be safe and secure and for some parents, if they could, you’d keep them in a cocoon safe from all the perils of the outside world.
Today, however, the outside world encompasses a lot more than just the physical “outside” that we need to keep our kids safe from. The outside is now accessible from inside, right from your kids’ bedroom, even. And by that, we mean the wide world of the World Wide Web – the internet. Remember all those concerning stories we used to hear when the internet first started to become a popular utility that people had access to in homes?
All these stories about the scandalous things that the internet can teach your kids, all those creeps that they can find in online chat rooms like Yahoo! Chat, MSN, and AIM. Interestingly enough, it’s the parents today who seem to fall for a lot of those scams on online chat forums more than our kids do. It may be because kids are growing up on it and can, often, spot the obvious fakes a mile away. However, this isn’t the case across the board, and as parents we need to be aware of the dangers of the internet so that we can help our kids stay safe. Read on for our top tips for parents regarding internet safety advice.
Educate Yourself and Stay Up to Date
This is an extremely important first step in becoming aware and working on staying aware of what’s going in your children’s lives online. In fact, constant education and lifelong learning is an asset in every aspect of life, so we’d suggest that this be adopted as an ethos for life – not solely in terms of internet safety.
However, when it comes to the lives of children and teens online, internet trends come and go really quickly. When a trend is en vogue, as it were, it’s often very intense and kids would often not want to feel left out. Yes, we know that it can be really difficult to keep up with every trend, especially with how quickly they come onto the scene. But the important thing is to have an idea, at the very least, so that you can guide your kids by engaging with them in conversation about whether some trends are really worth participating in, for example.
This is not just about trends, but also with popular apps, games, or online platforms of any kind that your kids have joined or are looking to join.
Don’t Ban Children from Using Tech
Technology, the internet, and digital space as a whole is here to stay – whether we like it or not. Children don’t just use tech on a daily basis today. They’re expected to use tech and have basic access to technology and a connection to the internet (in developed countries, anyway).
Even though the media is full of horror stories about online risks, you’ve got to understand that there’s a load of good that comes from technology. You’ve got to be reasonable and help your kids to minimize risk by understanding what your kids use their technology for and what their interests are. Learn from them and help them to navigate digital space with a bit of your life experience and wisdom. Banning them from using technology is only going to be detrimental for everyone involved, in the long term.
Teach Your Kids about Privacy
Children need to know that personal information should be kept private online. It’s vital that you teach kids the importance of not sharing sensitive personal information (both theirs and yours) on social media, blogs, gaming platforms, and other online forums.
Let them know that their full name, address, phone number, passwords, plans, and birthdays should be kept to themselves. No matter who asks them these questions online, even if it’s their friends, they should make a point of checking with you first, at the very least.
Giving away this information – and this applies to both parents and children – can be highly dangerous. If this sort of information gets into the wrong hands, it can easily be used by cybercriminals to commit identity fraud – the fallout of which, for the victim, is disastrous. If anyone asks your child for this kind of information, try to find out who they are before even considering handing over such information. Type their name, email address, or phone number into Nuwber and see what you can pull up. With access to a database of publicly available records, you’ll be able to find out a whole lot more about the background of the person trying to squeeze out such information from you or your child.
Keep Age Restrictions in Mind
The consumption of content is ever growing. There’s a lot out there on swathes of streaming services, sites, and apps that are ready to be accessed by your kids at almost any time. For many, we tend to gloss over age restrictions, but as a parent, you’d want to shield your children from content that could very well be inappropriate for their developing minds and sensibilities.
Make sure that your child does not sign up for sites if they’re underage or not ready to do so. While this is true for video and streaming websites, for instance, it’s also true for social media.
You may not be sure when your child is ready to use social media, but most credible social media platforms do have age restrictions to prevent underage individuals from registering.
Additionally, any good security software that you install generally comes with parental settings, so make sure to check those out, too.