The Internet is a wonderful educational resource and tool for research. It allows you access to people’s social media accounts, personal and business, and you have the latest news, tips and trends at the click of a button. But how can you protect your vulnerable and innocent children from the danger it poses?
We have to move with the times and banning your children from the online world completely is impossible. However, with a few basic approaches, you can be more vigilant and teach your children more responsible user habits. So in the spirit of fostering a safer Internet for all, Google SA has offered tips and techniques to make sure the Internet becomes a valuable household resource, and not a hazard.
The first step is to open the lines of communication about online safety, the rules and expectations around online use, what sites are appropriate for use, and the consequences if those rules are broken. Make your children feel comfortable when it comes to discussing these issues so that they will have no qualms about coming to you when they have questions or are unsure of how to handle strange or intrusive online situations or encounters.
The most effective course of action is to get involved. The younger your children are, the more actively you will need to co-pilot their web use. This might involve more than simply installing a parental control on your home browser.
- Stay Up To Date
Many adults are not fully aware of what new devices and apps can do. If your children are old enough to own their own devices, it’s best to understand what’s installed on their phones or tablets, and of course, what these are capable of. Most modern gaming consoles also connect to the web and allow for direct communication through apps like Skype and other direct communication services.
- Safe Browsing
The Internet has a number of protocols that can help you childproof your home computer and its access to less desirable parts of the web. The Google Safety Centre is a good place to start. Set up secure passwords for your family, and remind children not to give them out to anyone. Ensure they are in the habit of signing out of online accounts if they use them outside home – at school or the library, for example.
Kids need to know from an early age exactly what kinds of information should never be revealed. Names, addresses, details of family and friends, and so on are the kinds of things that predators feed on. Get to know the privacy settings on sites you and your children use, and make use of these to decide who can see content before you post it. Talk about what should or shouldn’t be shared on social media sites. Once your children are old enough to use these, some sites have age restrictions.
Encourage responsible online communication by teaching your children that if they wouldn’t say it to someone’s face, they shouldn’t say it online, over instant message or on text. Also guide your child on what to do if they feel uncomfortable with an interaction or experience on the web. Cyber bullying has become a serious issue around the world, often with devastating personal and legal implications. It is critical that you reassure your child that they can tell you when something feels wrong. You may need to report actions to your child’s school if the incident involves peers or, in extreme cases, to the police.
Technology is evolving and so is the way we use it. If you can’t stop the train, climb onboard; stay up to date and to review and revise your ground rules as your children grow.
SOURCE: IRVINE BARTLETT. IMAGE: PIXABAY.