The internet can be a great resource to learn something new or interact with others virtually, but it’s also a double-edged sword with the dangers and threats it brings to our youth, especially children.
Whether it’s in the form of an invasion of privacy, cyberbullying, sexting, or harassment, there are methods to protect your kids from such online abuse.
And with more children cooped up at home during the pandemic, we thought we’d put together a guide for parents on how to protect their children from online abuse while also teaching them about internet safety.
Explaining a Safe Way to Use the Internet to Your Kiddos
Enlightening your children on the online risks they may come across and how to avoid or report threats is one of the most crucial steps you can take to guarantee their safety online.
Before that, however, you must comprehend those risks for yourself. This means staying updated on the newest technologies, apps, and social media trends. It can be tough, but it will be useful when you speak with your kids about what to anticipate in the digital community.
Online Hazards to Go Over With Your Little Ones
- Dangerous or inappropriate websites
- Malware and how it can be downloaded to your devices
- Online frauds and scams (e.g. phishing)
- Sexual predators
It’s also in your best interest to maintain an open dialog with your children. Let it be known that you’re trying to protect them and acknowledge any of their questions and concerns.
An open discussion can provide them with a sense of comfort, even through the discomfort from whatever they face online. It will also give you a better understanding of how your youngsters use the internet.
Let kids know they can turn to their parents, teachers, or other trustworthy adults when they run into online content that causes them to feel afraid or uncomfortable.
Applying the Rules
Setting concise rules and explaining the reason behind every rule and the dangers it prevents can help your child be aware of potential threats. These rules should preserve your kid’s privacy, safety, and personal information.
Allow the conversation to stay open and continue as they grow up with more rights and responsibilities placed on their plate.
How to Protect Your Children in the Digital World
Parents can take on the position in protecting their children from online risks. A lot of it requires keeping track of the way they use the internet along with their access to it.
Whenever you decide to hand your child a smartphone for the first time, take this as a teaching opportunity. Show them how to create strong passwords and coordinate new rules for who can and can’t download apps.
Teaching Your Kids to Use Their Smartphones Wisely
Make sure your children know that a smartphone is personal and no one else should be using it. Sharing their phone can release confidential information or let someone steal and use their identity online.
Let them know how this can be harmful to their reputation if someone were to send out or post an inappropriate text, comment, or picture.
Remember to also mention the long-term harm to their reputation particular comments or images can have once they’re posted online. Show them how to think carefully about the way others may view or interpret their posts.
How to Keep Your Children Safe When They Use Their Smartphone
- Keep your children’s device in a common area of the home to track their activity.
- Keep methods of communication open.
- Compile a list of internet rules for kids.
- Check your child’s history regularly.
- Use security software or tools.
- Activate privacy features via your browser or internet service provider.
- Know what other computers or devices your child is using.
- Know their passcodes.
- Look out for changes in your child’s behavior that may suggest cyberbullying or contact with an online sexual predator.
- Encourage your kids to go to you if they come across anything online that causes them discomfort or makes them feel threatened. Remain calm and do not blame them; otherwise they will no longer feel comfortable turning to you in the future for support when needed.
Prevent Child Abuse In Person and Online
Make sure your kids don’t create any social media accounts or download social media apps until they turn 13 years of age. This isn’t just a safety tip, it’s the law. The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule was passed in 1998 to protect kids under the age of 13 from having their information retrieved online.
Also, make sure to address if you plan to monitor their online activity, track their browsing history, and keep a copy of their passcodes. Spying on their online activity without saying something first can compromise their trust in you.