Many of us are wary of allowing our kids on the internet. Access to the web can present a number of dangers and children can be particularly susceptible to these dangers. If you’re a parent and you want to keep your child safe on the web, here are some of the steps you can take.
Decide whether your kids need their own device
Nowadays, the average child gets their first phone at 10. Given that most modern phones have internet access, this is a decision that you need to carefully consider. Tablets and laptops are other devices that can enable your child to access the internet. Consider whether it’s better to let your child share devices at a young age so that you can monitor their usage. That said, giving them their own device could allow you to more easily set parental controls.
Use parental controls/safe search settings
Most devices come with in-built parental controls that you can set. It’s worth making sure that these are always set on your child’s device before they use it. There are also safe search engines that you can set as their default search engine to encourage safe internet usage. You may also be able to block access to certain apps. Prenatal controls can be relaxed as your child gets older.
Discuss online dangers with your kids
The best way to keep children safe online is to educate them on potential dangers. This includes warning kids not to talk with strangers, to avoid giving out private details online and to always voice any concerns about things they may have seen. Some of the biggest dangers that kids face include being victims of sexual predators, being victims of phishing scams, cyberbullying and exposure to potentially disturbing content. Social media can expose kids to a lot of these dangers – when kids set up a Facebook account, warn them against accepting friend requests from people they don’t know or replying to messages from people they do not know.
Restrict where and when they can use their devices
It’s wise to always keep an eye on where and when your children are using their devices. You could encourage them to only use phones, laptops and tablets while in the same room as you or you could ask them to keep their bedroom door open while using a device in their bedroom. This allows you to monitor children’s internet activity and may discourage their curiosity. As your child gets older, you can give them more freedom. Internet addiction and phone addiction can be a danger in teens – especially when they start using social media and getting heavily involved in video games – so you may want to enforce time limits to restrict how long they can use the web for. Some parents ban devices from rooms or restrict wi-fi access during certain times to discourage kids from being online all night. It’s best to enforce any rules early – your kids won’t be happy if you suddenly enforce new rules after having previously had the freedom to use the internet whenever they liked.