The internet is an excellent tool for learning. However, it also comes with many risks, especially for kids. When it comes to your child’s online activities, you must ensure they remain protected against all online threats, such as chatting with undesirable people and accessing inappropriate and harmful content.
Here are some tips on how to protect your kids online.
- Create Open Communications
One way to protect your child from the risks of using the internet is to communicate with them openly. Your child should be comfortable approaching you if they want to discuss online threats and other issues they could face online. Also, try to communicate with your child regularly, no matter how busy you may be.
Make internet use a part of your daily conversation, like how you ask them about their day at school, what they do with friends, etc. Regularly talking about it can make your child feel at ease about opening up about any issues they could face online. They will not hesitate to open up to you if they encounter any threat or come across something inappropriate.
Most kids these days are very tech-savvy. As parents, we should also educate ourselves about the online world. It can be easy to get overwhelmed by the various technologies and languages kids use. Also, it’s not easy to monitor the numerous apps and games that pose risks to your kids. Parents can stay up to speed with the latest apps and websites by researching online and reading reviews about specific apps and games. Try to learn how to play the games your kids install on their devices. Also, ask questions about the people they interact with through these apps. Know your child’s online friends the same way you know who their friends are in real life.
- Use Parental Controls
Parental control features allow you to control all aspects of your child’s Internet activities, including the amount of time they can spend online and the type of websites and applications they can use. The system will stop any attempt to use these programs and will record these attempts in the programs’ log, which you can view later.
You can opt for parental controls with more advanced features, such as limiting correspondence on specific contacts online, such as in their social network accounts. There is also the option to block messages containing personal information or inappropriate words or phrases. Installing an effective parental control program gives you control over your child’s access to the world wide web. However, when using these programs, you should log off your account after every use, or your efforts will go to waste.
Establish a schedule for automatic virus checks on your computer to ensure your child’s personal information will not end up in the wrong hands. Perform a deep system scan to prevent unwanted visitors from accessing the computer’s hard drive.
- Know the Risks
Although there are many great benefits to using the internet, it also comes with many risk factors that could impact your child’s well-being. You need to be aware of these risks to protect your child. When it comes to this, consider taking online safeguarding courses, which will help teach parents about the possible dangers kids can face online and how to manage these.
One of the risks your child can face online is cyberbullying, which can affect your child’s mental health. According to a survey, almost 60% of kids using social media have encountered different forms of bullying. Your child can be bullied across various platforms online. For instance, someone could ridicule them through social media exchanges or when playing online games. The best way to protect your child against cyberbullying is to talk to them about it and teach them how to stand up against these bullies.
Another risk your child may face online is an encounter with cyber predators. Sexual predators are lurking online, stalking children to take advantage of their innocence. Learn about the guidance in safeguarding against predators online, although the best way to protect them is to keep track of their internet activities and to talk to your children about these risks.
- Report any Safety Concerns
If you have uncovered issues about your child’s online activities or come across something concerning or upsetting, you must immediately report it to authorities. You can call the hotline of the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) to report these things. If you believe your child needs support after what they have encountered, you should call Childline.
For any young person, having a sexual video or image of themselves shared online can be extremely distressing and could severely affect their mental health. The situation can also be difficult for every parent to deal with. However, there are ways to support your child when this happens. If they are below 18 years old, they can take advantage of the “Report Remove” tool. It’s a tool allowing children and other vulnerable individuals to report inappropriate videos or images of them online. When they make the report, the authorities can take the content down.
- Limit their Screen Time
One of the best ways to protect your child from cyber threats is to limit their screen time. Aside from protecting your child from these risks, limiting their screen time can have a positive effect on their overall well-being and performance at school.
Be firm when it comes to establishing clear rules and limits on your child’s screen time, whether it’s spending an hour on Facebook after homework or using the internet only on weekends. Thankfully, technologies have made it possible for parents to have control over their child’s internet use. Apple and Android have parental control tools that allow you to limit your child’s access to the internet, so take advantage of these.
Make sure you stick to the rules. Try not to get tempted when your child begs or bargains for more time to use their favourite apps or games. Otherwise, your rules will be useless.