Your kids online safety depends on how much input you dedicate towards ensuring they are at minimal risk. This includes talking to them frequently about their interests in the internet, and the risks involved, as well as putting up some repressive measures without letting them feel like they're being watched.
Things Children Do Online
There is no worse time to be a parent than now when social networking has seemingly taken over the internet. Children visit the internet for several reasons:
- Use social sites like Facebook and Twitter.
- Participate in educative forums.
- Play online games with other users.
- Chat with other internet users via games apps and other tools like Whatsapp.
- Share photos and videos via social websites like Instagram, Vine, and YouTube.
- Search for information on search engines for educational purposes or to satisfy their curiosity.
By using the internet for any reason, there will always be dangers. However, by understanding and involving children to talk about these hazards, you are setting up a platform for kids' online safety.
The Dangers that Kids are Exposed to while Online
As much as there could be too much constructive and helpful content online, explicit and damaging content is also there in equal measure. Children should be given an online safety guide that will ensure that they are faced with minimal risks when using the web.
Kids and teenagers are faced with the following dangers:
- Explicit content such as pornography.
- Images encouraging child abuse.
- Incitement content for rebellion.
- Violence and racist material.
- Emotional cons.
- Cyber criminals.
It is easy for kids and the young to fall prey of cyber tricks that have been used by criminals to drain personal accounts, and also to download malware without knowing.
Online Safety Tips for Kids
Engaging children in talk time after time is an effective way of ensuring their safety when using the internet. There are also parental controls that you can use to monitor and filter what your child can access. Denying them the use of a Smartphone or a laptop is grave and will only increase their curiosity and make things worse in the long run.
1. Talk to the kids early in advance and often so - Children find intriguing things online and will find themselves spending more and more time in the web. As technology keeps changing, ensure that you're always checking on them to establish what they are considering fun and relevant. By doing so, you will be in a position to take preemptive measures to make them stay on the right track
2. Explore together - Just like you engage your children when doing their homework and house chores, so should you partner them to explore the web pages they like. That will give you an idea of what they could be doing during their free time online, and if there is any necessary step to be taken, you will do it in good time.
3. Find out who is talking to your child - Kids can be overly trusting, and it will be hard to convince them that their seemingly best friend online is a fake who is out to exploit them. In a polite way, and without any prejudice, make them understand that everyone they have met only via the internet is a stranger and not a friend; at least until they have met them. Try to share with them about real-life stories that you may have heard regarding online relationships, and if you don't have any, make one up. You may decide not to follow them in social media as that may sound creepy, but find a way to monitor their social activities through a rogue account, or through someone else's account.
4. Agree with them to set online limits - Depending on the age of your child, it is appropriate to establish some ground rules. Consider setting boundaries on:
- The time they are allowed to spend online.
- The right time to go online.
- The websites they can visit or can be part of.
- Nature of images or videos they can share.
- How to relate to online strangers.
- The information they can share online.
5. Make use of parental advisory settings to filter and monitor their online activities - Technology has made it possible that you can control your child from viewing unsuitable content through parental control settings. Going by the assumption that your kid is not bright enough to locate the configurations, laptops and Smartphones have the provision to block specific websites and content.
6. Check that they know how to use reporting tools - The internet is a hub for all kinds of personalities, and your child is too young to understand that. If they are using social media, they are likely to come across disturbing information or messages that could make them uncomfortable. Your kids' online safety depends on how much they know and how they know best to deal with such. Ensure that you talk to them frequently about what they should do when faced with such situations.
Online Safety Guide is Essential to both Parents and Kids
Children are lured into befriending total strangers through social networking sites and online games. This makes these children vulnerable to sharing sensitive personal information, including that of their parents. It also makes them easy targets for bullying and grooming.
Grooming and sexual exploitation cases have been reported worldwide, where innocent kids fall prey to online pretenders disguised as friends.
Although privacy controls can limit the people who can view your child's details, it will no longer be possible to hide these details from someone once they become friends. Similarly, some game apps will ask for personal information before they can be allowed to play; then this data finds its way into the hands of millions of strangers.
Most of the social networking apps use software that adjusts to where the user is, and kids can reveal their locations innocently by tagging photos on Instagram, or posting on Facebook. This makes it easy for goons to establish where these kids live, school, or hang out. To avoid the unthinkable, help your child switch off their GPS or make adjustments on their device tracking systems.
Cases of cyber-swindling have become common nowadays, and the most notorious lead is through sharing sensitive information like PayPal or Credit Card details. Kids may give away information after being enticed with irresistible prizes especially when playing online games.