Children use the internet more than ever, which offers many benefits but also several safety issues. As a parent, you need to establish firm rules about online safety in your household, teaching your children about the dangers of the web from an early age.
Today, we’re providing some invaluable tips for keeping your children and teens safe online. Read on for more information.
6 Tips for Teaching Internet Safety to Children and Teens
1. Maintain a Dialogue About Internet Activity From an Early Age
Children will start using the internet from an early age in school. They’ll expect similar privileges at home. Start by encouraging honesty and transparency about their online activities. Ask them about the websites they use and the people they talk to online. Make this a regular part of your relationship. As your children get older, they may continue this dialogue and let you know any issues they may have with inappropriate websites or messages.
2. Remind Your Children to Never Share Personal Information or Click Suspicious Links
Children are more naive than adults, particularly when sharing personal information online. Phishing attempts and scam messages are commonplace nowadays; more than 240,000 people were phishing victims in 2020 in the US alone. Unfortunately, your children may fall for these scams, giving personal details and passwords to hackers or following suspicious links that put viruses on your devices.
In addition, people may use your child’s personal details to track their location. As such, you must reiterate that your child should never reveal their home or school address, birthday, phone number, etc.
3. Let Your Children Know About Online Predators
Following our previous point, children need to be aware that people online are not always who they say they are. The internet makes it easy for online predators to lie about their age and identity, developing harmful online relationships with children and teens. The FBI estimates half a million online predators are using the internet. Ensure your child knows not to trust people they do not know online. Also, let them know they can come to you if they have concerns about somebody or feel uncomfortable.
4. Encourage Your Child to Talk About Cyberbullying
Cyberbullying is another problem that faces many children online. Teach your children that they do not need to remain silent if they are being cyberbullied by somebody or witness cyberbullying happening to somebody else. Let your children know that cyberbullying is just as hurtful as regular bullying and that they should speak to a responsible adult whenever it happens.
Children subjected to cyberbullying are more likely to develop mental health issues such as anxiety and depression, which can cause further problems down the line. Therefore, the best course of action is to eliminate offensive or harmful online behaviour as soon as it happens.
5. Use a Parental Control App
Sometimes, teaching your child about internet safety will not stop them from accidentally viewing inappropriate materials. Luckily, parents can use apps to monitor kids’ phones and online activity. These apps can block certain websites and contacts, provide updates on your child’s activities, and track a device’s location, so you know where your child is. If you are concerned about their internet activity, a parental control app could be a worthwhile investment.
6. Encourage Independence but Keep an Open Line of Communication if Your Children Feel Threatened
As your children turn into teenagers, they are going to demand more independence. Teenagers often rebel against house rules and want to do their own thing. Accept that this is a common part of growing up and allow your children more independence. However, you should still encourage trust and transparency about their online activities. Teenagers are still targets for online predators and cyberbullies; make sure they know they can still come to you if they have any problems with somebody online.
These are just a few great ways to ensure your children know how to use the internet safely. While parents cannot monitor their children 24/7, these suggestions will prepare your children whenever they go online, prompting them to make wiser decisions on the internet.