With the rise of technology in the educational space, and the new school year finally here, it’s imperative to understand proper internet safety protocol when it comes to your children.
The online world can be a vast and wonderful place, but it can also be incredibly dangerous. Your child could be researching information about dinosaurs and might accidentally click an advertisement that brings them to an illicit website.
Not to mention, cyber bullying, harassment, and identity theft are becoming all too common, but that doesn’t mean your child has to become a victim. You just need to understand how to keep them safe online.
1. Stay Involved
Don’t distance yourself from your child while they’re online, you should be aware of what they’re doing and who they’re talking to. You don’t have to smother them, but teaching them steps to properly use the internet will help everyone in the long run. Additionally, it’s a good idea to teach them about what they should and shouldn’t click, and similarly to the real world, “stranger danger” exists online, too.
You don’t have to scare your child, just make them aware that under no circumstance should they give out information such as, their birthday, phone number, address, etc. Setting some ground rules before they’re on the web can prevent a lot of problems from occurring.
Finally, create an open environment where your child can communicate with you. In case something does happen, you want your child to feel comfortable coming to you so that you can take steps to remedy the situation.
2. Be Tech Savvy
Tools such as pop-up and ad blockers can help prevent your child from clicking scams or inappropriate content. Not all advertisements are bad, but some can actually contain malware when clicked. When malware is on your computer it can track what you’re doing online, which leaves sensitive information vulnerable. So, make sure everyone in the family is aware of content they can and can’t click.
Another great way to protect your child is to make sure you have safety modes enabled where they’re offered. In fact, Google, Bing, Yahoo, and YouTube offer this, so your child can safely view content without being able to access inappropriate content.
Of course, with children today growing up with more advanced tech, they may be able to turn off blockers and safety modes. Not to worry though, if you’re willing to put in the effort you can actually program your computer to block websites. This is an advanced method, but is a great way to prevent your child from accessing websites they shouldn’t be on!
Finally, keep your internet browser, operating system, and anti-virus software up to date. Don’t ignore updates! Computer viruses and other harmful malware can get into a system easier when software and other protective programs aren’t updated.
3. Stay Informed
As a parent, you should also be active online. Whether it be on social media or the internet in general, there’s no better way to understand what your child is seeing or doing, by doing it yourself.
Research places where strangers may be targeting younger children online. In fact, just last year, many younger teens and children fell victim to a gambling scam based around the popular game CSGO. While actions have been taken against the scammers, this doesn’t mean it can’t happen again.
You should also be aware of cyberbullying hotspots. Also known as “trolling”, kids can be subject to harassment online just like in the real world. Teach your children about the importance of respect in real life as well as online. Additionally, if they see something hateful or inappropriate to tell you about it.
Forums such as, Reddit, can also be a dangerous for kids. While the forum hub does provide advice and entertainment, much of it is adult oriented and users often enter the website at their own risk.
Social media can also be another danger to younger children, especially if they’re interacting with strangers or scammers. If they do use social media to talk to their friends, hold them responsible for what they do on it, and monitor their activity.
Finally, be aware of laws or policies that are already in place to protect your child. Many big companies such as, Google and Facebook are aware of the problems children face online. In fact, there was a law created in 1998 to protect your child’s privacy while using the internet. Therefore, if anything happens, you can take legal action.
Do you have any precautions you take to protect your children online? If so, we’d love to hear about your safety strategies in the comments below.