The internet can be a place of good and a place of malice. While adults are able to comprehend and handle the information flows that arrive in the brain via online presence, kids are more susceptible to harm while browsing the world wide web or playing online games. There are tons of benefits for kids socializing and discovering the virtual world, but it comes with risks. This article covers the basics of how adults can protect their young ones from harmful online data and individuals.
- Be involved and set up easy to follow rules
Nothing beats real-life communication. Don’t be absorbed in the daily routine too much. Talk and explain to your kids what are the potential threats of browsing the internet, playing online games and using social media. Be involved and help your kids discover the “worldwide web” together. It brings a lot more added value than simply restricting access or blocking access to information. Discuss the dangers of online interactions with your children as soon as you feel they are ready. Don’t try implementing a surveillance type of relationship as it may lead to seclusion on the part of your kids. Stay involved in a way that allows them to come to you and feel safe once they detect suspicious activity online. Be real and open while establishing clear and create simple, easy to follow rules:
- Don’t reveal or trade personal information such as phone number, address, school name, location, password, pictures, profile accounts, etc.
- Never go meeting a person met online without supervision or approval.
- Don’t respond to malicious emails or texts coming to your phone
2. Computers, devices and consoles need to be placed in open areas of the house
Keep the computer and console in an area of “easy access” where you can watch and monitor their use. Never place them in closed-off rooms. Don’t intrude on the kids’ personal space, but be vigilant where they consume online information. When they run off to use their devices alone, try to understand the behavior. In the early stages of a child’s development, it is best to simply not allow them to do it on their own in their rooms. If things don’t feel ok, try to monitor your kid’s time on smartphones or tablets after their “session” ends. Check for suspicious websites they may have visited when you were away or chats that aren’t transparent enough.
3. Establish trust and accountability regarding online security
As soon as your kid(s) get a sense of what it means to spend time on the internet and play online video games, accountability should be a constant topic of your discussions. It will take time for them to grasp the full scope of the matter, so be patient. Start off by showing them how to easily access their favorite websites, by bookmarking them. Explain how you can check your credit cards in order to see if they use them for unauthorized charges. Establish trust by making sure you are present and aware when they report unknown situations they encounter on the web. You need to become the go-to person for them. Observe unusual behavior after online sessions. It is important to play the role of both supervisor and parent and anticipate the unwanted results of online encounters. With today’s technologies, you’ll need to understand if there is online protection in your local schools and know if their friends have a basics understanding of what online security means. Cooperate with your children’s friend’s older family members and make sure everyone is on the same page in regards to this topic. For extreme and highly suspicious online activities such as when a child receives pornography or malicious content from online predators, contact your local law enforcement agencies.
4. Set time limits
Today children spend a lot of time and attention on the online world. Social media, online games, the sources are abundant. The amount of data they are being bombarded with can get out of hand, that’s why there should be data and time limits for their daily consumptions. It is a tough challenge since once the dopamine reward system gets connected with their online entertainment. It is going to take a lot more than restrictions and monitoring to get a handle of. Start off by setting a time limit for browsing the web, playing games, or socializing online. Find ways to get your kids excited and challenged when they go “offline” and spend time in the real world – play games, create fun stories together, go outside. It is a time investment and a balancing act on your part as well since a parent’s presence is mandatory to make it work.
5. Parents need to grow their knowledge base in terms of online security
Knowledge about software and devices is at our fingertips today, but in terms of online security, it is important to always stay up to date with the latest trends. Get a sense of what VPN providers can do for your household’s online security, be informed of what additional security feature your internet providers have. Specifically, ask what they can do for your kid’s online protection. Parental controls, web-site blocking and filtering tools should be included on your monthly package. Search online for various software applications designated for your child’s protection. A good example of hardware meets software is Circle home plus that comes with all the features to keep your kid’s online security in check. Did you know that messaging apps such as Messager, WhatsApp and Viber messages can be archived or that malicious websites can be blocked? Take the time to learn. Remember it is unrealistic to continually physically be present to keep your offsprings secure. We live in a world filled with unpredictable situations, but being knowledgeable will keep you one step in front of online bullies, hackers and creeps.
6. Use technology to enhance the relationships with your kids
Even if physically you won’t be always present, virtually you can find ways to always keep a watchful eye on your child’s online activities (it sounds menacing, but balance the act). There are applications and devices to help you with that, but nothing beats real relationships. In order to keep trust at a high level, try to interact with them via social media, play video games together, chat and do the work. Fortnight, Call of Duty and Minecraft are worlds, where kids can learn the best and worst of what humanity has to offer. It is important for them to have a trustworthy guide in those landscapes. It is the parent and their in-game avatar that can help accomplish the security task while being “cool” and vigilant. For example, in times of the COVID-19 outbreak, Tik Tok became the social network kids often hang around. Why not shoot videos together and check what followers are coming to the profile?
Think of how empowering the internet can be for your children’s future. It can help them in becoming the researchers, influencers, professional gamers and scientists of tomorrow. Just as much in the early stage of their development, it can be a place where bad people can impact their journey. It is not just the tools and techniques you as a parent application. The presence, attention and care you give them make all the difference in what sort of online experiences they will come across until they become adults.