Children's safety on the Internet: important tips for parents
The Internet is like life: there is light and darkness, good and evil. When letting their children journey through the Internet, parents need to be sure that they are not exposed to inappropriate content. Only constant parental supervision can guarantee children's safety on the Internet.
Be aware of your children's interestsSo, the first tip is quite simple: it's not hard to understand and easy to implement. Stay in touch with your children, make time to talk, learn from them and keep up to date. Be open to their questions and invest in software that keeps them safe online. The time and money you invest now will pay off in your children's well-being in the future.
Set up your Internet to keep kids safe onlineWhat you can do in the browser itself is enable parental controls on streaming services such as YouTube, Netflix and Apple TV. You can also install software that filters content or lets you choose what times devices can and cannot be used. This action is similar to Steve Jobs' rule about limiting the time our children spend in the virtual world.
Use options already set up in your browser, such as search history, and learn their email addresses and passwords, so you can keep track of activity. Many devices use cloud storage, such as Google Drive or Apple iCloud, to store data such as documents, photos, or videos. Access to these can also be controlled.
Consider the risks of using social mediaYes, it's true, having friends and connecting with other people is very important for kids and young adults. These days, communications can be for different purposes: to keep in touch with family, to blog on Instagram... Many people use WhatsApp, Snapchat or Viber to communicate with friends. Of course, there are many apps that include instant messaging, but they all pose some degree of danger, especially in situations where kids are messaging with people they don't know in real life and shouldn't trust.
Again, use common sense, logic, and warn children that the messages and pictures people exchange can be viewed and received by people other than those to whom they are addressed. Teach them to use and adjust their privacy settings so that only people they know can see their profile and check those settings yourself more often.
Teach kids how to report abuse or inappropriate content to a social media service or other agency, especially when inappropriate content is involved. Make sure children and teens understand the risks associated with sending or forwarding sexual texts, images or videos (based on gender) and the harm it can cause them and others.
Know the tools, risks, rules, and approachesIn most cases, the vast amount of publicly available content is undesirable to a child. And a child gets it randomly by showing basic curiosity and, for example, by clicking on a pop-up YouTube video. The biggest problem may arise when your child encounters abusers or scammers, of which there are many on the Internet. For example, cyberbullying, including of children, has become a very common phenomenon in modern life. This is another reason for parents to think about how to ensure the safety of children on the Internet. It is necessary to make everyone, adults and children alike, aware of the importance of anonymity on the Internet. If you and your children do not use your real name, if you always access the Internet through a secure VPN connection, it ensures that no intruder can accurately determine the identity and location of you and your children, steal personal data and cause you any harm.
Online abusers are notorious for usually impersonating another person or even a child, willingly using software and websites where children interact. The abuser may pose as a child or teenager who wants to make a new friend. Their malicious intent is to get as much information from the child as possible (personal information, address, phone number, etc.). That's why our first piece of advice is paramount - parents need to be aware of what their children are seeing and hearing online, who they are communicating with, and what they are saying about themselves. Use your privilege as a parent to create a trusting relationship with your children and communicate with them regularly.