These days, it is hard to imagine what life would be like without the Internet. For most people, it has become as much a part of life as eating, going to work, or sleeping. Children use the Internet for everything from playing games to doing research. They also rely on it as a way of connecting with their friends. Parents are often hesitant to allow children to get on the Internet because of the many dangers lurking online. When proper precautions are taken, however, children can safely use the Internet without any worry.
There are a number of different ways that children can benefit from being able to access the online world. At the same time, however, there are a lot of dangers that parents need to understand. Besides technical threats such as viruses and malware, children can also become victims of cyberbullying and can come in contact with unsavory characters who mean them harm. Using the tips below, parents can help ensure that their children stay safe while they are using the Internet.
- Educate Children About The Dangers Of The Internet
Children who access the Internet are never too young to have a talk about some of the dangers that are out there. That doesn’t mean that you need to leave them feeling terrified. However, they should be aware of potential dangers such as cyberbullying and online grooming. It is important to have open discussions about these topics, even if they can be uncomfortable to talk about.
- Don’t Be Afraid To Restrict Access
Children who access the Internet need to have boundaries in place. When they are young, it is usually a good idea to keep them away from using social media or from communicating online with their friends. As they age, you can remove some of these restrictions. However, you should still try to rein in the amount of time that they spend on the Internet. You should also block unsavory websites or searches. Check the age restrictions on any games that they play to make sure that they are not playing games that are too advanced for their age. Find a balance between real life and the Internet by banning smartphones or other handheld devices at the dinner table.
- Use Parental Controls To Safeguard Children
Although you can find a lot of amazing things online, there are also things that children shouldn’t see. Parental controls allow parents to choose what types of content their children have access to through their computers and mobile devices. Not only can they be used to block access to content that may be inappropriate for children but they can also be used to prevent them from buying apps or changing the privacy settings on devices. A somewhat shocking study that was done recently found that a large percentage of kids have already been exposed to pornography online by the time they are twelve. Using parental controls is a great way to keep children safe.
- Stay With Your Child When They Are Online
There is no denying that the Internet has opened up a world of possibilities for education. There are a ton of games, apps, and other tools that kids can use to enhance their learning experience. Consider exploring the Internet with your children rather than allowing them to get online alone. By working together on the computer, you can help young children learn how to safely use the Internet and mobile devices.
- Teach Kids About Cyberbullying
In the past, bullies attacked their targets through face-to-face confrontations. These days, however, most bullies hide behind the safety of the Internet. Cyberbullying can occur through a variety of different online platforms ranging from popular social networks to email, text messages, and even online games. This type of bullying can range from exposing personal information about someone to harassing them, threatening them or trying to intimidate them. Make sure that children are aware of cyberbullying. Let them know that you are there to help them if they ever fall victim to this type of bullying. Additionally, teach them how to keep their personal information safe when using the Internet to help reduce the risk of being personally attacked.
- Make sure kids understand the dangers associated with building friendships through the Internet.
Kids have a tendency to believe what people tell them. This can be extremely dangerous on the Internet. When they meet new people through a forum or chat room, they usually don’t question the person’s identity. As it turns out, however, pedophiles and other people with ill intentions often target children online, trying to make friends with them to set up secret meetings. Make sure children understand just how dangerous it is to form new friendships with strangers through the Internet. Although they should be able to communicate with their current friends online, try to limit their interactions with people that they don’t know.
Technology is here to stay and is a part of everyday life for most children. As a parent, it is important to make sure that your child has the basic tools that they need to stay safe online.