Practicing Online Safety Together
When we were children, our parents warned us not to talk to strangers. Those were the days when virtual was not the new normal. Nowadays, as parents, we need to be aware of the strangers lurking on the internet, plus the many other threats that come with an online generation.
We want to keep our kids safe and to do this we need to know how and why their safety is threatened online.
What threats lurk on the internet?
There are threats on the internet that neither you nor your children might be ready for so its important to get educated and keep up to date. Content that is inappropriate or harmful for children is an ongoing problem. This includes sexually explicit material and graphic violence. Yet another fear for parents is the issue of online predators who seek out unsuspecting children, and phishing scammers who manipulate your children for their – and your – personal information in order to steal both money and identities.
A growing concern for parents is cyber-bullying, where your children can become targets for online bullies. You and your children also need to be aware of computer security issues like malware and spyware that they might be unknowingly downloading, and which can result in many headaches
How to protect our kids from internet threats
Of course, the Internet is a wonderful resource for our kids. They use it to research school reports, communicate with teachers and other kids, and play interactive games. We need to make sure it stays a positive space for all.
Put technical safeguards in place
You don’t need to be a techie to make your kids safe while they surf. Internet security software is easy to access and install. You could also have an IT consultant (ask for recommendations at work) make your software safer. You need:
- Parental control software: This allows you to control what apps and websites your children can access and can also set the amount of time your children spend online.
- Antivirus software: This will protect you from malware and computer viruses. You can set your computer to automatically and regularly scan for viruses.
Put rules in place
The best path to open communication and willingness to follow rules is to discuss them first. The following are some of the most important rules to put in place to secure your kids’ online safely:
- Never share anything online that you would not share with the whole world. Don’t share addresses or phone numbers. Never share passwords. Remember, the internet never forgets.
- Don’t talk to strangers; Don’t make arrangements to meet someone you have only met online without telling your parents first
- If you receive threats via email, message or text, do not respond. Show your parents immediately.
- Block and report bullies and tell your parents about any interaction that you find uncomfortable or threatening.
Added to these rules, keep your kids safe by continually monitoring the time they spend online.
Talk to your kids! They need to know the risks as well as the benefits of the internet. Make sure they know to come to you before they make decisions regarding anything online. This include buying apps, signing up for freebees or responding to requests for details. If they face any form of a threat on the internet, make sure they feel they can discuss it with you.
Look for warning signs
If your child closes his device whenever you walk in the room, spends an excessive amount of time online and is reluctant to talk about it, there may be a problem – cyber-bullying for example or stranger danger. The best advice for parents is to be alert, be supportive and keep safe together.