Threats to children’s safety have evolved significantly over the past two decades, primarily fuelled by technological advances and socio-cultural changes. The internet has become a major influence and an indispensable resource for today’s children. It has also exposed them to a new level of risk, from identity theft to sexual harassment and cyberbullying. However, if used wisely, the internet also represents an unimaginable wealth of resources to support your child’s development. Therefore, we provide you with 4 essential safety tips to help you create a safe and nurturing online experience for your child.
1. Keep up with the trends
Technology is evolving at a rapid pace, and if you are to protect your child from its many dangers, it would be essential to keep yourself up-to-date.
This will enable you to understand their interests, which could differ significantly between different age groups. Many kids are exploring the internet and social media at a very young age and will inevitably follow the trends that are popular among their peer groups, whether it’s the newest online game, social network, or the entertainment site. And identifying and recognizing these will enable you to take the necessary measures to create a safer environment for them to enjoy their online experience.
But in addition to that, keeping pace with technology will also enable you to identify various useful and effective tools and resources available for you to ensure your child’s online safety. From people search sites such as Nuwber that allow you to reverse search any suspicious or unfamiliar names, phone numbers or email addresses, to apps such as Parental Control that could help you track your child’s location, there are many amazing technological tools for today’s parents. Therefore, it’s certainly worthwhile investing your time to familiarize yourself and your partner of emerging trends.
2. Educate your kids
Educating your children should be one of the first steps towards ensuring their online safety for any parent. With a better understanding of the risks and dangers in the digital environment, children are more likely to appreciate the need for controls and rules for their protection. You can also empower them to identify potential threats and to act with caution for a safer online experience.
Therefore, engage in open discussions about the need to exercise caution, the various cyber threats, and how best to avoid them. Teach them basic online etiquette of social sharing, networking, and communication, and the importance of being respectful towards different opinions when engaging with others on social media platforms and online forums.
Create a supportive environment for them to discuss, ask questions and seek clarifications. This could prevent them from acquiring inaccurate or misleading information from others, or even experimenting on their own and thereby risking their safety. It could also encourage them to alert you in the event of any concerns of cyberbullying or inappropriate activity encountered by your kids or someone they know.
3. Set rules
Setting boundaries and defining ground rules are an essential part of protecting your kids from the dangers of the online world, especially with smaller children.
Establish specific times during the day for using the internet and define for which purposes they are allowed to go online. However, ensure that you do not restrict their online time for educational purposes only since social interaction and entertainment are also important for a child’s development today.
Specify what type of content and websites are acceptable for them to access, and ensure that personal information and content are not shared without your explicit approval. Prevent them from speaking or meeting with anyone they have befriended online without your permission and supervision.
Keeping the computer in a public area of the house could further allow you to monitor your child’s online activities easily.
4. Parental controls
While overprotecting your children could have its own perils, using effective parental controls is, unfortunately, a necessary evil in today’s digital world. And there are several tools to keep at hand that could allow you to implement an incredible amount of safety measures with digital access.
Content filters are the first line of defense against inappropriate or unsafe content. Search engines like Google as well as social networks such as YouTube provide filters under safe search settings to remove age-inappropriate content from search results. Even app stores such as Google Play provide parental controls to restrict children from accessing, purchasing or downloading inappropriate apps, games, music, movies, books and the like onto mobile devices.
And Parental Control apps such as Qustodio and Kaspersky Safe Kids can allow you to supervise and manage internet access by your child across several devices. These could offer a range of useful features such as screen time limits, daily search activity monitoring, search and social media restrictions, and even remote geolocation tracking.
The bottom line is that you may not forever be able to watch your child’s every move to ensure their safety. However, taking early action to set effective measures and educating them at a young age could provide you with greater control and peace of mind, while empowering them to ensure a safer online experience.