It’s no secret that internet usage has been on a steady rise over the last decade for both children and adults. This fact has been heavily magnified over the last year between the pandemic, everyone staying at home, and social distancing. With this increase in internet usage, it’s important to remember the dangers that lurk on the web. Effective ways to protect your children and their internet activity includes teaching them the dangers of the internet, how to avoid these situations, and how to keep themselves safe from online strangers. Here are a few proactive initiatives.
Monitoring and limiting what your child does online can be a little bit of a controversy between parents, but it does have its place when it’s for the sake of making sure your child is safe. Preventing them from accessing inappropriate websites can easily be done with a parental control app or add-on from your provider or a browser extension. Some controls can make certain functions password protected, like being able to download or purchase anything. This adds another layer of protection by allowing you to physically monitor and approve anything beforehand.
Talk With Your Kids About Being Safe Online
As great as it might be to control everything on the backend, in cases like this, ignorance isn’t always bliss. Make your kids aware of the dangers of sharing too much information and befriending strangers on the internet. Begin the conversation as early as they start using the internet for any type of services, such as video streaming, social media posts, or gaming online. Make it abundantly clear that as innocent as their activities may seem, danger can be found in all of these things.
Teach them about keeping their location private, using privacy settings when available and never giving out personal information to suspicious websites or online “friends.” Reminding them regularly that the internet isn’t a private place will refresh their knowledge and ensure they’re practicing internet safety. Lastly, encourage them to come to you when they are in doubt about anything regarding their safety.
Limit Screen Time
Between phones, tablets, televisions and video games, it might seem like your child is constantly in front of a screen. And the longer they are in front of a screen, the more time they have to get into a bit of trouble, even if they aren’t intending on finding it.
Consider limiting your child's screen time to only a couple of hours a day or week. This is also a good self-regulation strategy for your child to start learning and understanding so they know how to limit and allocate their time as they enter adulthood.
Educate - Don’t Scare
The last thing you want to do when teaching your child about internet safety is to create an irrational fear in them. For your children to be able to fully enjoy the social and educational benefits, it’s crucial to educate them about the dangers and encourage them to always be alert and aware. As an adult, you should always lead by example with the intention of having your children follow suit to keep themselves safe on the vast sea of the internet.
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