Online safety is a top concern for parents, with 50% of them worrying about identity theft and 48% about keeping their devices secure, according to a 2016 survey published on Statista.
Keeping yourself safe online becomes an even more important topic when it relates to children, because they may not have a complete understanding of how to avoid some of the pitfalls. Here are 7 tips for parents looking to ensure the safety of their children online.
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Become their teacher
These days children start early when it comes to using online tools, and they also learn about browsing from their friends. Take some time to see how they’re using the internet and what can you teach them at their level of usage. Introduce them to the different software you have installed for security and explain the importance of each software in simple terms. Besides explaining things yourself, you can also find educational resources on video streaming platforms and websites. Research to see if there are videos or articles that explain thanks in a fun and easy way.
Monitor your child's activity
Security warnings given by the security software don't hold the same meaning for children's as they do for us. For them, the content present on the page is more important. Check your history to make sure your child isn't visiting any websites that are set up for malicious purposes.
Educate your child to not disclose personal information
Many websites encourage visitors to sign up for some offers or rewards. This information is then used for marketing purposes but the end use of this information depends on the website collecting it. Similarly, social media networks also use the information you provide to categorize you for marketing. Encourage your children to be careful where they provide their information. Ask them to be selective and divert information they share publicly.
Besides web pages, there are also many social chat forums that are popular among teens and preteens. With these networks, stop them from sharing their number, photo, location, etc.
Discuss the pros and cons of meeting people online
The internet has made it much easier for children to find friends: they can join a gaming group or a community that talks about their interests. At the same time, it's also as easy as ever to hide your information. If your son has made a new friend online and wants to meet them, make sure you accompany them for the meeting. It's also a good idea to run their information through a people search site like Nuwber. The search engine collects public information like phone numbers, addresses, and public records.
Talk about their code of conduct
Start by talking about how long they’re allowed to use the internet. Knowing their children's interest in the internet, many parents use it as a method of controlling them by allowing them to stay online for long hours. Instead, establish a time and also think of creative ways to fill time when they’re not online.
For many children, one of the main reasons to go online is to play games. Games are notorious for the abusive language used by other gamers. Make sure you have a talk with your children about how they will behave towards others when gaming.
Another concern many parents have is easy availability of adult material. Besides using the safety settings on your browser and search engine, talk to them about which content is off-limits. But, remember that searching for such information is natural, so don't be too harsh on them. Instead, discuss the matter with them and ensure that their overall direction is correct.
Teach your child to stay safe
Despite your best efforts, you can't be there all of the time. Teach your children how to think critically when making a choice. Inform them about the difference between fake and legitimate and accurate and inaccurate.
Be available for a chat
Keep the lines of communication open at all times. Be someone who is approachable so they can share their problems with you. Reassure them that sharing will not that result in punishment.
Parents are one of the first role models for children. As a responsible parent, you should talk to your children about the possible risks associated with using the internet and how they can minimize those risks.