How To Keep Your Children Safe Online
As a parent your child’s safety is probably one of your top priorities. Whether it’s while he's playing a sport or just walking in the street, you’re constantly thinking about how to protect your child from physical trauma.
But has it ever come to mind that you might also need to protect them emotionally?
Why Do I Need To Keep My Children Safe Online?
The internet is a big, big place. Having the luxury of using your mobile phone to get online means you have access to a whole world of information and people to talk to.
And so do your children.
READ MORE: How Can I Keep My Children Safe Online?
Chat rooms or social media can be very deceiving. Anybody can create a Facebook profile or an email account faking somebody. If you and your child are not careful, you might be chatting with somebody who would want to cause harm.
Therefore it’s very important to talk to your children and tell them not to take anyone’s word for granted online.
So Should I Totally Ban My Kids From Using The Internet?
Recently Stacey Solomon, mum of two who finished third on The X Factor UK in 2009, said to Express that she has a zero-tolerance approach when it comes to her children spending time online.
“I don’t allow my kids to go online,” she told the newspaper. “It scares me to think they could be talking to anyone. When you meet someone online, you don’t know who they are, where they’re from, or what their intentions are.”
READ MORE: Can I Stop Family Sharing Pictures Of My Child Online?
She herself has been struggling with trolls on social media: “I see how it makes me feel and try to relate that back to how it would make my children feel when they’re online. There are always those who can ruin your day on social media. I end up muting people or blocking people, which is a really great tool.”
But you don’t have to totally ban your children from being online. Stacey chose to raise her kids this way.
Where Do I Start?
CyberSafeIreland recommends three things parents should do to ensure their children are safe online:
- Start the Conversation – You should check in daily with your children about what they’re doing online. Ask them what is fun about the internet, what can go wrong and how they would cope with it. Have a conversation with them about what is okay and not okay to do online. Encourage them to look after their friends. Get them to show you how to do something online and encourage them to always ask you if they feel uneasy about something they saw online and how to handle it. If they do come to you with such a problem, it’s important to stay calm and not freak out.
- Do Your Research – Peer pressure is often a motive for children to be online, so just by taking this away means they’ll feel left out. And let’s be serious: If you're not online these days, you’re missing out a lot on educational things too. So if your child comes to you about setting up a social media account or want to play an online game, make sure that you know how and what it entails. Not knowing what something is can be scary, so educate yourself and know what to expect.
- Get Involved – If you do allow your child to be online or use a particular app, make sure you’re involved. Talk to them about what they like about it and why. Agree on basic ground rules, like not accepting friend requests from strangers and always keep an eye on what they are doing and saying online. Once again encourage them to always talk to you if anything makes them upset or worried.
Use The Online Safety Tools
David Emm, principal security researcher at Kaspersky Lab, reminds parents that the internet can play an important role in your child’s education.
“We are all now living in a digital age and children are fortunate that they can access a wide range of entertainment from a young age.”
READ MORE: How To Teach Your Child About Stranger Danger
But parents should keep the risks in mind. About 87% of parents admitted to Kaspersky Lab that they don’t restrict how much time their young children spend online.
“Tools and regulations to protect children from inappropriate web content are important, but so is the monitoring of children’s online activities by parents. For parents who want to allow their children online, they should ensure that their children’s freedom to explore the online world can continue without sacrificing their emotional safety.”
Kaspersky Lab recommends the following tips to keep your children safe whilst online:
- Activate safety settings – parental controls can be installed to help prevent children from viewing age-inappropriate content. In the Apple App Store, you can create a PIN code to allow purchases of online games.
- Make use of the mute, block and report features – This will protect them from a lot of harmful content.
- Don’t share information – Remind your child not to give out personal information or content, like their address, mobile number or pictures of themselves, to anyone online.
Being Online Is Not All Just Bad
Although you might be terrified to let your children enjoy the online world by now, just know that not everything about the internet is bad for your child.
There are a lot of online educational games and loads and loads of information to let your child get to travel the world and learn about other cultures from the luxury of your home.
Just make sure that they are responsible when online, and be open to them if you don’t like what they’re doing.
The most important of all: They should always feel like they can talk to you about anything they’ve encountered online.
How do you ensure your child's safe online? Tell us in the comments below.