Is your child getting a bit older and asking for access to social media accounts? Are they a bit younger and love to watch internet videos or play games?
No matter their age, they can be at risk of identity theft, sexual predators, or finding access to illegal items. Sometimes the internet can be an unsafe place if parents don't take the proper precautions with all this new communication technology. This means that you must know the dangers and teach your children about them.
We're going to discuss internet safety tips for kids and what you can do to help keep them safe. Having a game plan in place and being pro-active can really make the difference for the safety of your children. Keep reading for more information!
Just like explaining to a toddler about 'stranger danger' you will need to tell kids about the strangers online. For older children who use social media, this conversation may include not accepting requests from people they don't know or are unsure of.
You will need to tell your kids not to post personal information, including the school they attend or their class schedule and afterschool schedule. Be sure that their profiles are set to 'private' to deter prying eyes. Here are the steps to make a Facebook profile private.
Remember that a 'private' setting is not a fix-all; accounts can be hacked from other locations which allow extra sets of eyes to see your child's information.
For younger children who enjoy games or watching YouTube style kids' videos, limit the settings that allow communications within the app or website. This includes comments and in-game chats. Ask to see their favorite videos or show you their favorite games to see where they may have access to communicating with unsavory people. As an alternative, you can set up some YouTube parental controls to help keep them safer.
Unfortunately, little ones may not fully understand 'stranger danger' in the online world so you will have to monitor them a bit more closely. Speaking of monitoring, they have an app for that! You can help keep your kids safer with this mobile parental control app to monitor usage and what they are watching.
Our lives have become ingrained with the internet. Aside from watching your kids' activities on the family computer or their laptops, look at other internet sources.
This will include smart speakers and gaming consoles. Smart speakers can allow children to say almost anything and receive an answer. Some of the answers may be topics that you are not comfortable explaining at their age.
These devices may also introduce unedited music and allow voice or video calls.
Many gaming consoles allow for online play. The games that allow this often allow players to connect with strangers (and friends) via voice or text boxes. Usually, this is harmless fun but it can turn into bullying, suggestive topics, or even allowing your child to connect with less-savory people.
Smartphones and tablets are also a growing problem. There are so many apps available for download that seem harmless but are far from it. It isn't necessarily that your child will do something wrong--it may be the people in their inbox.
Apps like Snapchat, WhatsApp, Kik, and Ask.fm all may serve a purpose for adults but can offer seriously inappropriate content for underage kids. Set limits with your children early!
Your children may already understand that they shouldn't speak to strangers online, but consider setting a few other rules.
Decide how much screen time is appropriate for each child and have kids use their devices in public areas of your home. Instead of allowing children to keep their phones/tablets overnight, place them on charge in your bedroom or kitchen.
Doing this serves a few purposes, the first of which is safety. Aside from the safety aspect, your children will likely sleep better at night and not stay up later than you prefer.
You may also consider asking for your child's passwords to their devices and apps. If you find this to be too invasive, consider monitoring software. There are many variations of this type of software and you can find a style that fits your needs.
Communicate your expectations of how your children should behave online. Explain that once something is posted, it is there forever--even after pressing the delete button.
More companies than ever are checking into social media history of an applicant. They shouldn't risk posting something risque and losing a job or college admission to a silly post as a teen.
As an adult, you may choose to use online dating sites. You know that you shouldn't meet people in secluded areas and to always let someone know of your whereabouts.
Kids tend to develop a false sense of security when chatting with people online. Explain the dangers of meeting online 'friends' in person. If your child is insistent on meeting a 'friend,' be sure to accompany them in a public location. Consider informing the authorities of your intent as well.
Let your kids know that they don't have control over who initiates contact with them. Reiterate that they do not have to accept bullying and can block users from their accounts--show them how if they're unsure.
There is a common theme throughout all of these internet safety tips for kids: healthy communication. As a parent, you can impose all of the rules you want. However, explaining the rules and why they are set may help your children better follow them.
Always be sure that your kids know they won't get in trouble for a mistake or coming to you when they feel uncomfortable. Explain that an honest mistake is a learning experience, but it shouldn't be repeated.
As their guardian, make it as difficult as possible for kids to access illicit information by using parental controls. Use these in conjunction with each of the tips in this article and open communication with your kids.
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