5 Tips to Protect Your Children Online
The rise of the use of technology in all aspects of our life has enabled a great many wonderful things to be possible like automation, the internet, and online shopping. Probably best of all, we’ve seen an increase in the uptake of the use of technology and computers in the classroom in schools, which has made the learning experience richer and prepared our children better for a world where technology is everywhere.
The use of technology in school has given children access to infinite knowledge, creativity, and learning opportunities that have never existed before. It has also opened up a new responsibility for parents – keeping our kids safe while they’re online and using the internet. Here are a few tips for parents to help protect their children while they explore what our interconnected world has to offer.
Talk to Them
The first and often most effective way of combatting the dangers of children using the internet is to just talk to them. Many schools are incorporating online safety into lessons now kids are using school laptops, but don’t rely on this alone to be enough. The best method here might not be scare tactics and shouldn’t be a lecture about what dangers are other there, but instead should just be learning about what your children are doing while online.
Ask them about what websites they visit, apps they use, and who they talk to. Keeping this conversation and open dialog going, making sure they know that many of the same rules you have about not interacting with strangers in person should be carried over to the online world.
Using their activity and what you think is appropriate, creating some form of agreement or contract on what they are allowed to and not allowed to do online can be a useful tool to keep them away from the dark side of the online world.
Restrict Devices Use to Public Spaces
Another way that might help with online safety is to not allow younger children to use devices unsupervised in their bedroom or where you can’t generally monitor what they’re doing. The easiest way to do this is to only allow them to use the computer or devices in areas of the house where you can see what they’re doing or easily check up on them.
Teach Them About Privacy
Make sure your children know what they should keep private while they’re playing their favourite online game or chatting to friends. Not only should you get to know who their online friends are (if they aren’t offline friends too), but you should make sure they have a strong sense of what information they shouldn’t share with anyone. This includes things like their real name and surname, location, address, telephone number, what school they go to, and any information that might be personally identifying. Of course, the best way to keep this information private is to use the features built into many games and devices.
Use Device Features
If the device, game, or app allows it, use its features and options to disable chatting with strangers or features that might expose locations. Important here are things like the geo-tagging a device’s camera might do by embedding the location a photo was taken into the metadata of the image, which can be viewed by anyone who receives it. Explore your child’s device settings thoroughly and pay particularly close attention to the privacy settings.
Use Monitoring Software
There are a few different options for monitoring what your children do on their computers or mobile devices, some even provided by the device manufacturer itself – like Google Family. This software allows you not only to strictly monitor what is happening on the device but to also block certain things, websites, and categories of apps or information from being accessed at all. If your child needs access to something that might be a bit borderline, they’ll need to ask you first. This can let you not only decide whether to allow it or not, but it is also a good chance to discuss the content and remind them about how to stay safe online.
We are consistently and always connected, and as this always-on way of being becomes more part of your children’s lives, they must become wiser about the risks associated with it. Keeping your children safe online is largely about talking to them, engaging with them, and educating them to be sure they understand how to stay safe, but don’t be afraid to put up physical or virtual barriers to keep them safe too.