How do we keep children safe in the ‘online world? I know the ‘ordinary world’ we live in can be extremely difficult to navigate (especially with kids). The ‘virtual world’ is no different. Our responsibility can get even more complicated as parents. It makes me wonder how can we protect our children effectively in this ‘brave new world?’ How are we supposed to keep them safe from something that is nearly impossible to control?
Online Safety Tips for Kids:
I didn’t have a guide for how to handle the internet with my children, but now I do. Check out my top internet preparation tips to make sure going online is a positive experience for both you and your kids:
1. Discover the Internet together
Be the one to introduce your child to the internet, because for both us as parents and children it is an advantage to discover the internet together. Try to find websites that are exciting and fun so that together you achieve a positive attitude when it comes to surfing the web. This could make it easier to share both positive and negative experiences in the future so that your children will come to you for anything.
2. Set rules with your child for Internet use
Try to reach an agreement with your child on the guidelines which apply to Internet use in your household.
- Discuss when and for how long it’s acceptable for your child to use the Internet.
- Agree on how to treat personal information (name, address, telephone, e-mail).
- Discuss how to behave towards others when gaming, chatting, e-mailing or messaging.
- Agree on what type of sites and activities are OK or not OK in your family.
- Follow the rules yourself! Or at least explain why the rules are different for adults.
3. Encourage your child to be careful when disclosing personal information
A simple rule for younger children should be that the child should not give out their name, phone number or photo without your approval. Older children using social networking sites like Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, should be encouraged to be selective about what personal information and photos they post to online spaces. Regardless of privacy settings, once material is online you can no longer control who sees it or how it’s used.
4. Talk about the risks associated with meeting online “friends” in person
Adults should understand that the internet can be a positive meeting place for children, where they can get to know other young people and make new friends. However, for safety and to avoid unpleasant experiences, it is important that children do not meet strangers they have met online without being accompanied by an adult you trust. In any case, the child should always have their parents’ approval first. In addition, it’s also a good idea to have a fool-proof plan in place such as calling them shortly after the meeting begins so that they can bail out if they feel uncomfortable.
5. Teach your child about evaluating information and being critically aware of information found online.
Most children use the internet to improve and develop their knowledge in relation to schoolwork and personal interests. Children should be aware that not all information found online is correct, accurate or relevant. Show your child how to check the information they find by comparing it to alternative sources on the same topic. Show them trusted sites they can use to compare their information.
6. Don’t be too critical towards your child’s exploration of the Internet
Children may come across adult material by accident on the web. Also, a child may intentionally search for such websites; remember that it is natural for children to be curious about off-limits material. Try to use this as an opening to discuss the content with them, and perhaps make rules for this kind of activity. We have to be careful but also realistic in our assessment of how your child uses the internet.
7. Let your children show you what they like to do online
To be able to guide your child with regard to Internet use, it’s important to understand how children use the Internet and know what they like to do online. Let your child show you which websites they like visiting and what they do there.
8. Remember that the positive aspects of the Internet outweigh the negatives.
The Internet is an excellent educational and recreational resource for children, so encourage your child to make the most of it and explore the internet to its full potential.
As we know, the internet is now part of our culture and it is here to stay. Since it is such a valuable resource for us as parents in many positive ways, it’s not something we should be fighting against, rather something that we need to embrace with our children in a healthy way. If we help them to develop these good online habits at an early age, these practices will stay with them through their adult lives and will help them to form a positive relationship with the internet, making their virtual world a healthy and safe reality.
As always, I’d love to hear which blogs resonate most with you! Feel free to reach out and message me on Facebook & Instagram!
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