Today, the Internet is every bit as useful and essential as a washing machine or a car. However, some safety concerns must be addressed, especially when talking about kids.
Kids and teens nowadays have easy access to smartphones, the Internet, and social media. If you haven’t already, it is time to add cyber safety awareness as a part of your parental toolkit.
There are 500,000 active online predators, and the number is increasing every day. The FBI estimates that more than 50% of the victims of online sexual exploitation are aged between twelve and fifteen.
So, without further ado, here’s what every parent can do to ensure Internet safety for their children.
Openly Talk With Your Child and Discuss Their Online Activity
The moment your child learns about and starts accessing the Internet, you need to have a candid conversation regarding what they’re watching, reading and who they are talking with online. The conversation needs to keep going as they grow older.
Ask your child what applications they use and the websites they’re visiting. Talk about what you think is appropriate and listen to your child to reach an agreement as a family regarding what’s right.
When having frank conversations with your child, ensure a time will come when your child will access the web outside of the comfort of their home. You must be prepared for that.
It is crucial to teach your children about their online reputation and how to interact and behave with people to represent themselves in a public forum. They need to always remember the Internet isn’t private.
The Internet is a blessing but also a curse. It allows you to access a lot of information, interact with people across the globe and shop online. But it also distracts and makes kids go astray.
That’s why the topic of limiting Internet access has been ongoing for decades. Parents need to learn how to block certain websites on Mac and Windows. Some websites are harmful and bad for your kids, such as Reddit, Omegle Tinder, etc.
Blocking these websites is important to keep your child away from inappropriate content.
Keep Devices and Screens Where You Can Monitor Them
Ensure to track your child’s time online, especially if your child is young. The computer or laptop must be placed in a central spot so you can easily keep an eye on what your child is viewing on the Internet.
Also, you can keep changing the Wi-Fi password so your kids cannot go online without you knowing. You can even keep checking the browser history to make sure your children are not visiting websites they’re not supposed to.
Find Out About Your Child’s Online Friends
As adults, you know that some people on the Internet are not who they pretend to be, but kids are naive. They don’t think about who they are chatting with, and they easily trust strangers. As a parent, it is your responsibility to make them aware of the goings-on of the online world.
You can try and find out about your child’s friends online and get to know their social media circles. Also, monitor their social media posts. They may resist you but explain to them why.
Set Parental Controls
Search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing offer safe search filters in their settings and ensure it is enabled so your child cannot search for something inappropriate.
Also, Netflix and other OTT platforms offer a separate profile for children to help weed out inappropriate content containing violence and sexual content. You must know how to set parental controls and ensure they’re enabled.
Teach Your Child to Keep Their Address or Location Private
Most devices, networks, and applications have geotagging features, making it possible for your location to become public. Such features must be disabled for security reasons. Your child must be taught never to reveal their location or home address to strangers they have befriended online.
Even digital photos contain metadata, and they can reveal much more than what is appropriate. So, teach your child the dangers of oversharing on the Internet.
Surely, you don’t want your child to live in fear, and you wouldn’t want to instill fear in their minds. But it is important to take certain steps to make sure that your child is safe when surfing the Internet.
Give your child proper knowledge and skills to tackle such online threats because it is impossible for you to always monitor their online activities.