The world our kids are growing up in is very different to when we were young. Kids are learning how to navigate an iPad and smartphone well before they can even string a sentence together. The Internet is a part of everyday life and, for the most part, it is an amazing way to learn and play. On the flip side, there are also dangers associated with using the internet. As a parent, it is important to prepare yourself for what is out there and help to keep your kids safe while they are online. Here are 17 tips for parent for keeping kids safe online.
Don’t let your child use the internet alone – It is a good idea to keep your computer in a high traffic area where you can keep an eye on what your child is looking at online. It is also a good idea to not let them use computers and other devices with online access alone in their bedrooms.
Educate yourself – Know the basics of how the internet, social media sites and Apps work. Keep up to date on their privacy policies and rules. Try not to let your kids know too much more than you (I know that can get hard when you have teenagers).
Talk to your Kids – Talk to them about what sites they are using and what they like and who they are talking to. Also talk to them about possible dangers that are online; chat rooms, cyber bullying, social media, gambling, predictors and pornography.
Spend time with your kids – Sit down with your children and let them show you what sites they like to use. Get involved in what your child likes and build trust with them.
Set up a filter on your computers – This can sound a bit annoying but either through curiosity or by mistake, kids can be taken to sites that have adult content. Setting up a filter can help to reduce any issues.
Set ground rules – It is a good idea, when your kids are younger, to set up ‘online’ rules and then to modify them as your child gets older. Think about setting time limits and no internet devices in the bedroom as well as what information not to published online like phone numbers, school details, addresses, birthdays, credit card information etc. Don’t let kids post pictures online as this can help to identify their location (some social media sites will publish where the photo is taken from.) Write down your rules, if you need to and refer to them and remind your kids often.
Teach kids that what is posted online stays online forever – This is a particularly important point for older children who are using blogging and social media sites. It might seem funny to post a picture of yourself in a bikini or make a derogative comment but prospective employers can easily search online and may find more appropriate candidates for your dream job if they find things that have been posted in the past they don’t like.
Choose screen names that don’t give away who you are – it is important that you choose a username that doesn’t give away any personal details. They might be a bit harder to remember if they are more cryptic but why not use something like our Password Reminder Template to keep track of usernames for sites.
Don’t give your child access to bank details – Credit cards, bank details and passwords to Paypal or iTunes are all important to keep to yourself. You don’t want to be the owner of a rare Star Wars figurine that your 6 year old just won on eBay for $788 or the complete Top 500 songs for 2013 on iTunes, purchased by your 13 year old. Keep a close eye on your credit card statement for any unusual activity too.
Have discussions about cyber bullying – It is important that you have a conversation with your kids about what is cyber bullying and how to deal with it. Take a look at this Fact Sheet on Cyber Bullying to get you started.
Review your privacy settings – It is a good idea to take a good look at all your privacy settings on your social media accounts and internet devices. Check that your location is not being published and that what you write isn’t available for anyone to read. Don’t just go on the default settings.
Do research – Go online and find out what sites are out there and what might be suitable to recommend for your child, that is age appropriate and has content you approve of. Going online yourself and putting yourself into your child’s shoes might help you to see what information they can access and why it’s important you keep an eye on them when they use the internet.
Talk to other parents – Find out what sites they let their child view and if they have any good sites or bad experiences. If your child is going over to friends houses, find out from parents what their policy is for using computers and internet.
It’s best not to allow your child to have their own email or social media pages – Many social media sites don’t allow kids under 13 to have a page. If you feel you are ok with a separate email or Facebook page etc, make sure you have full access to them. Always know the passwords and do random checks (telling your child that you will do this) to see who they are talking to and what they are talking about. Explain to your kids that it is not that you are trying to spy on them, rather you are trying to keep them safe from other people who use the internet.
Try not to allow children to post photos of themselves – It’s a good idea to always double check what pictures of your child go online. There are a lot of clues in photos that predators can look for in a photo to find out about your child. School uniforms, front yards, bedrooms and sporting clubs can all help someone piece together a profile on your child. Don’t feel you can’t post pictures, just double check what your child is posting. Older kids also need some monitoring in regards to what they are wearing in their photos and who they are sending them to.
Don’t ban your kids from the Internet – After reading this list, it can seem easier to just take away your child’s internet use all together to avoid any problems. The internet, social media and Apps are a part of everyday life now so your kids are going to be exposed to it everywhere, not just at home. If you educate yourself and your kids about the best way to use the technology they will become responsible and smart and will most likely never have any issues.
Look for signs of Danger – Keep an eye on your child’s behaviour: Do they delete their history so you can’t see what they have been looking at? Do they turn off their screen when you enter the room? Do they take phone calls in secret? Do they get gifts from people? Don’t be scared and paranoid that only bad things are going to happen online, rather keep an eye out and if you feel something may be wrong, talk to your kids about them.
Tags: Keeping kids safe online, tips to keep kids safe on the internet, internet safety, kids and the internet, children online, helping children to stay safe online