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Some ways to make the internet a safe, fun and secure place for your kids
Kids learning their grammar or math from a tablet or laptop is becoming more common as we transition to online schooling. There’s also no shortage of mobile apps that can help children learn and play at the same time. In these situations, it’s easy to see that the internet serves not only as a practical learning resource for children but also as a source of fun or entertainment.
However, there’s a flip side to these benefits when you let your children browse the internet unsupervised. At their young age, schoolchildren and teens can be vulnerable to online threats that they’re not fully aware of until they get into trouble—though we hope it doesn’t ever get to that point.
Whether it’s cyberbullying, inappropriate content, contact with undesirable people or malware, the ugly side of the internet can put child safety at risk. For their protection and your peace of mind, here are five internet safety tips to follow as you let them navigate the online world:
1. Educate your kids about the dangers of surfing the web
Perhaps the easiest way to do this is to talk about the internet as a place where bad things can happen, just like in the real, physical world.
Tell your kids that not all sites are suitable for them. Some of them may use language that they don’t understand, while others may be visited by people who will try to harm or take advantage of them. Remind them that the rule of not talking to strangers applies both to the real and virtual world.
2. Install an antivirus solution on your kids’ devices
Antivirus software is vital in protecting your children from harmful programs or malware, which will not only infect a device but may also gain access to your children’s data, like a phone number or email address, as they secretly run behind the scenes. Antivirus solution lets you run regular, in-depth system checks to ensure that their devices are free from malicious apps.
3. Play online games with them
Staying safe online will require more than just installing antivirus software. It will help to get involved in some of your child’s online interests, too. For starters, try playing online games with them. You can use it as an opportunity to bond with your kids and let them know they can talk to you about it. Also, kids think it’s cool when their parents play with them (especially when they’re able to beat you).
Do you notice kids using offensive language to pick on someone during a game? Let them know that this behavior is not acceptable and remind them that the person on the other side also has feelings. In addition, you don’t want them to do this in real life nor be bullied in the same way by other gamers.
Online games provide an avenue for children to socialize or make friends with people they already know, as well as other gamers from all over the world. Just make sure that these games are appropriate for their age and that your children observe good internet etiquette like “think before you click.”
4. Use parental control software to monitor your child’s online activities
Parental control software is one of the most effective ways to keep kids safe online. It allows you to track and limit what they can do on the internet, as well as set how much time they’re allowed in a day. This helps ensure that your kids don’t develop an unhealthy addiction to the point that they stay up late playing games or consuming other media.
With parental control software, you also get to pick the sites or applications they’re allowed to use. This is especially useful if your kids are deleting their browsing history, which should be a red flag that they may be navigating through malicious or illegal sites like those involved in pornography or gambling.
If your kids have social media accounts, you can also set restrictions like choosing which contacts can engage with them on their wall or via direct messages. Encourage them to let you know if they come across something that makes them feel uncomfortable.
5. Keep your computer in a common area of the house
Ideally, computers and other gaming equipment should be in a common area, like the living room or family room. It’s easier to monitor and supervise your kids when you can see them using the devices while assuring them that you want to make their internet experience as safe and secure as possible.
Safe, Fun and Secure Internet Use for Kids
Kids spending time and having fun with their digital devices is fine as long as long as you teach them positive and responsible online habits. The goal is to make the internet a safe, fun and secure place for your kids.