Must-Know Tips for Keeping Children Safe Online
The numbers about children's potential online hazards are alarming; 1 out of 4 children have seen unwanted pornography, 1 in 5 kids have been sexually solicited, and almost 60% of teens who use the internet have received instant messages or email from complete strangers.
Unfortunately, it does not seem that these figures will change any time soon as kids are becoming computer savvy at younger ages and using the internet daily. However, that does not mean that every parent should do what it takes to protect their child online. The following are must-used tips for keeping your children safe online, and they will help you protect them from online dangers, even when you are not around.
Talk to your children about the dangers of the internet
The internet is neutral, however, some of the people using it do not have the purest intentions, and this is a point that you have to get across to your children; just like in the real world, strangers on the internet may pose a threat to your children, exploiting their innocence and lack of experience. As they start using the internet, you must instill in your children the following:
Do not speak to strangers – even if they are nice and even if they are seeking help. A child is in no position to help an adult, and if someone contacts your child, instruct them to tell you immediately and not to reply to any message.
Never send/receive photos – photos remain online for good, and certain people may pass them around for illegal use. Tell your children never to send out photos or accept photos from people they do not know.
Help your children come to you – make sure your children know that the lines of communication between you are always open. Let them know that even if they think that you will be mad about something that they did online, they can and must come and talk to you so you will solve the problem together, no matter how big it may seem.
Put the computer in a common area
Teenagers may resent this rule, but children will listen to you. Put a family computer in a common area in your home and limit usage for certain hours of the day. Remember that children must use the internet for research and homework aside from fun, but when they use it, you will be able to keep them safe. When children feel that someone is looking over their shoulders and watching what they are doing, they will be more likely to play by your rules.
Install internet protection software
You can protect children online by blocking as many online hazards as possible; an internet protection software will help you block unwanted content, limit activity, and even get alerts about red flags. You can purchase software online or ask your internet provider which software they provide to protect children.
Run a people search
If your children are communicating with friends online, like classmates, make sure that the adult in their lives is trustworthy. A people search on adults (teachers, friends' parents, etc.) who are a part of your children's lives will help you find out if they have a criminal past if they are registered sex offenders and any other detail that you should know about.
Encourage your children to talk about cyberbullying
Cyberbullying has become a modern-day disease that affects countless children around the world. Aside from the sense of humiliation that bullied children feel, many of them are also embarrassed to bring up the subject with their parents. To make sure your child is safe from cyberbullying, tell them to come to you if someone is bullying them, even if it is another child. Make sure they know that no matter what the other person says, they have to come to you for help, even if they were told otherwise.
No face-to-face meeting or exchange of personal information
If someone is trying to prey on your child, they will take your time doing so, gaining their trust and lowering the child's defenses. Over time, the predator will ask your child to provide personal information, like an address, or even ask them to meet in person. Aside from the no-strangers rule, tell your children that they can never, ever provide personal information about themselves or other people in their life.
If you want to keep children safe online, you have to give them guidelines and make sure they know that they can come to you with whatever question, concern, or problem they have. instill in them the importance of being careful and responsible online, and repeat the internet use house rules from time to time to remind them of the proper use of the internet. It will help keep them safe, and over time, the ways of staying safe online will become inherent in your children, and they will know how to protect themselves from harm.