When it comes to accessing the internet, having a seemingly endless stream of information and content can be both powerful and useful. However, as a famous superhero once said, with great power comes great responsibility, and as a parent, it’s your responsibility to ensure your minor children are using the internet safely. With each year, online technology becomes more and more advanced, enabling hackers, scammers, and predators to take advantage of innocent users behind a screen. Teaching your child, the many ways they can stay safe will only serve to benefit them as they reach adulthood.
Here are a few ways you can get started with educating your child on staying safe while using the internet:
- Make sure you’re familiar with online safety. Before you can educate your children, you have to educate yourself first. Start by learning about the different ways the internet can be dangerous to any individual; some of the most common hazards include online predators, cyberbullies, phishing, and general inappropriate content. It’s also important to understand what information should not be shared online, especially on social media platforms.
- Don’t wait – start early. It’s not uncommon for toddlers to use their parents’ mobile devices to play games designed for the youngest members of our society, so there’s no reason why you should wait to teach your children how to stay safe while online. Smartphones and tablets have become common household items, and there’s no dearth of apps that children enjoy. One suggestion is to go over how in-app purchases features work, such as in-app purchases, so your child doesn’t unintentionally spend money (and so you don’t get surprise charges on your next credit card statement). If your child is asking about using social media, consider the pros and cons based on their age and the medium they want to use.
- Set guidelines for your child to follow. Fortunately, it’s become easy for parents to set up boundaries for their children when they use the internet. Google offers the SafeSearch feature to prevent users from searching for inappropriate content, and you can use your mobile device’s settings to prevent your child from using certain features. If your child wants to chat with their friends online, Facebook offers a messenger feature designed specifically for kids that keeps their parents in the loop regarding who they’re chatting with.
- Make sure they understand the ins and outs of social media. Social media sites such as Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, and Discord are attracting more and more users who are under the age of 18, and if your child is drawn to one or more of these apps, they need to know how to use them safely. Stress the importance of keeping posts set to private, not disclosing personal information, not to add people they don’t know personally, and just be careful what they share.