The Internet is a very resourceful treasure of knowledge, motivation and inspiration, but is also quite complex and has unsafe realities for children. That’s why it is important to take appropriate measures of ensuring that you guarantee the online safety of your children as they use the Internet. This is only achievable by teaching your child more about Internet safety and the dos and don’ts they should do while surfing on the Internet. Here are 10 tips to follow when teaching your child about Internet safety. (See other parenting resources)
1. Stay informed
In the present times of fast technology advancement, parents have to ensure that they are up-to-date with the latest advancements and developments on the Internet. As a parent, you have to learn the basics so that you are able to identify how you can keep your child safe while online. Research about the software and tools that your child is using to know how to regulate the application and its use. Ensure that you are aware of the security threats posed by applications and online programs to the online security of your child.
2. Talk to them about Internet security
Your child may know a lot about the Internet and its use but know very little about Internet safety. As such, it is your task to teach them more about the Internet and what they need to do to guarantee their safety on the Internet. Make them understand the online vulnerabilities they face when using the Internet. It is advisable that you should never let your child access the Internet until they are aware of how to safeguard their identity and safety particularly on social media platforms. Advise them that they should never arrange a meeting with a person they have met online.
3. Supervise their online activity
Your child’s online activity should never go unsupervised. While you may t be able to monitor their every minute activity on the Internet, you should have an idea of what they do while online and the websites that they visit. This makes it easy for you to teach them about Internet security and safety on the basis of the vulnerabilities they are exposed to depending on the sites they visit. It is worth noting that there are different types of vulnerabilities that Internet users are exposed to when online.
4. Limit their use of the computer
Your child should not spend hours on end while on the Internet. Depending on their ages, a child should spend a maximum of 2-3 hours on the Internet unless they are using it to study. This is because excessive exposure to the Internet can be quite addictive and exposes your child to unlimited Internet safety hazards. You need to teach your child that he/she should not spend every free time they have on the Internet even when you are not at home. This helps in preventing your child from communicating with any particular person on the Internet especially people with ill intentions such as pedophiles.
5. Teach them how to behave when going online
You need to teach your child how to take care of themselves when on the Internet particularly because you will not be there to watch them all the time. The first thing you need to do is to teach your child the correct and appropriate way of using the Internet particularly when visiting social networking sites and chat rooms. Teach your child never to share personal details such as photos, videos and related content to strangers on the Internet. This is very important in preventing cyber bullying- a very common security concern for Internet users.
6. They can talk to you when they feel uncomfortable about a particular concern on the Internet
Let your child feel free to talk to you about issues that concern him/her while surfing on the Internet. Discussing Internet safety and security with your child will make it easy for them to seek your help when they are faced with a problem online. You should note that there is no particular age to teach your child about Internet safety. You should talk to your child about using the Internet safely after they have started using the Internet irrespective of how young they are.
7. Address sexting
Sexting is primarily very common among adolescents than in children of younger ages. Teach your child that sexting or any other related online sex activity is not permissible in any way. Sexting promotes immorality among teenagers and motivates them to engage in behavior such as sex before marriage. In addition to this, most sex offenders use sexting to identify potential victims whom they can sexually abuse through actions such as sodomy and rape.
8. Teach your child to be cautious of the things they post online
One of the mistakes that most children commit when on the Internet is posting things and deleting them later and assume that their posts have completely been erased from the Internet. However, this is not the case as any posts on the Internet are permanent as other users may have screenshot, downloaded or shared the posts for other online users to see them. As such, it is necessary to advise your child to exercise caution when on the Internet so that they only post items that are not likely to taint their online image or jeopardize their security.
9. Explore sites with your child
Before you let your child access the Internet on their own especially if they are very young, you should take time to explore the Internet with them. Be on the lookout for sites that you would feel okay when your child accesses them on their own as well as those you wouldn’t want him/her to access unless with your supervision. Let your child understand your reasons for objecting their access/visit to sites that you feel are inappropriate for them.
10. Have an account in the same social network as your child
The best way to monitor and guarantee the online safety of your child specifically on social media is by ensuring that you have an account in the same platform. Follow their posts, shares, and comments to monitor how they interact with other users as well as see if they make themselves vulnerable to online security threats.
The Internet is a very resourceful place that is full of important and educational information for everyone but its use should be monitored to guarantee the safety of all users. Look for child-friendly sites and apps that will be of benefit to your child and will provide age-appropriate content that is useful to the children.
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