Safer Internet Day is all about educating our kids to be safe around technology. Children today have grown into this world with technology all around them, and whilst they might feel comfortable around technology, it’s important to provide them guidelines and tools to staying safe online.
Here we have 3 simple steps to assist your children to keep them safe around technology.
3. Establish healthy rules
They say everything should be used in moderation and that’s the same for the use of technology. Video games, videos, social networks, and websites provide a treasure trove of fun experiences for kids to enjoy. In fact, research even shows that games which force children to stick to rules and follow directions can actually increase their capacity for self-discipline and autonomy. However, without guidelines or rules in place, kids can easily become addicted to these virtual experiences to the detriment of their ‘offline’ world.
As a parent some simple rules to include in your household:
– Limit online time to certain times of the day, so children can work on social skills when they meet friends.
– No phones during meal times.
– Providing age appropriate games and websites for children to explore.
– Always being aware of the types of websites that your children are visiting.
– Keeping use of internet connected devices in public areas of the home, e.g. the living room.
This creates a healthy balance of keeping up to date with technology whilst also teaching your kids to stay in touch with reality.
2. Educate kids about credible websites
Most websites ask for personal details at some point during the visit so it’s important to that your child’s address, financial information, passwords, and photos are protected. Once your child submits anything online, it will be almost impossible to retrieve and erase that information. With online scams and identity theft on the rise, it’s important to acquaint you and your children to the terms spam, phishing and pharming.
Have your children ask you to verify any websites that are asking for personal details, to ensure that they are authentic and not related to scams. If you as a parent or your child are still unsure about a website’s credibility, you should search online to see if the company exists, find out where it operates and see what other people have said about the company.
1. Minimise cyberbullying risks
As kids get older, other threats become more prevalent. Cyberbullying is an everyday occurrence involving deliberate harassment, harm or abuse of others online. This most commonly comes in the form of hateful text messages or online messages via social media. Whilst it could be easy to dismiss cyberbullying as just a few nasty names, the effects of this can be just as devastating as regular bullying.
As parents, we should be involved in creating safe spaces (online and offline) for our children. The main problem with cyberbullying is that kids are afraid to talk about any online abuse that directly affects them. The reasons for this range from embarrassment to fear that their phones or computers will be taken away if they report it to their parents. It’s important to ensure that your children know to always report to you or someone they know if they are being cyberbullied, and remind them that they will never be blamed for what’s happened to them.
Solutions to tackle the problem immediately include the blocking of specific numbers from your child’s contact list on their phone (or contacting the mobile provider) and using built-in social media tools to block people which should assist in preventing your child from receiving any messages from bullies.
These are only a few tips to follow to ensure the internet is a safer place for your children. Education is a great start, but this all starts with the parents by acting as a mentor for the child to come to if they’re unsure about any website they visit. You can show your child that they can be in control by giving them tools to help them manage these issues in the future.