- How to keep your child safe online?
In an increasingly digital world, kids use tech devices for just about everything. From completing schoolwork to watching movies and playing games, an internet connection has become essential. How to keep your child safe online?
Now more than ever, when we have to stay home to stay safe, it is likely that your children are spending more time online than before with remote schooling, chatting with friends and family and attending hobby classes online.
Although tech has revolutionized the way we interact and given us more opportunities than ever before, it does present a new set of challenges for parents. The internet can be a dangerous place, particularly for youngsters. As they spend more time online, they are also exposed to advertising promoting unhealthy foods, gender stereotypes and material that is age-inappropriate.
How to take advantage of what the internet can offer us while minimizing the negative impact?
How to keep your child safe online?
Here are10 things you must do to keep your child safe online when she uses the internet
1. Buy Child-Friendly Devices
Instead of buying a standard tablet or laptop and allowing your kids to use it, why not invest in a child-friendly device instead? These are pre-programmed to allow kids to access appropriate content but will prevent them from straying onto sites or platforms that aren’t intended for their eyes.
Buying a child-friendly device can be one of the easiest ways to restrict what your child is able to access on the internet, as it makes it a popular option for parents who aren’t familiar with technical terms or specs. What’s more – if everyone in the family routinely uses devices, having an extra one for the kids could be advantageous and keep your child safe online.
2. Monitor Communication
We use the internet to communicate with friends, family, and colleagues and kids use it to stay in touch with their mates too. However, you’ll want to monitor their communication to ensure they’re only ‘speaking’ to people they know and that the content is appropriate.
Talk to your child about who they talk to and how. Explain the value of kind and supportive interactions. Make them understand that inappropriate contact is not acceptable. If you child experiences any of this, let them know that they should inform a trusted adult right away. Be alert to signs of secrecy or if your child seems upset with their online time or being cyberbullied. Discuss and establish rules on how, when, where devices can be used.
Also, for younger children, monitor their time online. Place the computer in a central spot in the home where you can keep an eye on the screen. If your child uses a mobile device to go online, set it to forget Wi-Fi passwords so that your child cannot log in without your knowledge. Check browser histories to see which sites your child visits.
There are various ways you can monitor your kid’s online communication, including having all their messages sent directly to you. However, you’ll need to ensure that you’ve got a monitoring solution setup for each type of device. You can find out how to monitor text messages in this article, for example. Similarly, you’ll want to ensure you can monitor communications on iPhones, tablets, laptops, and even desktops.
3. Ban tech from the bedroom
Keeping devices in communal areas, like the living room or kitchen, allows you to keep an eye on what your kids are doing online, but there are other advantages to consider. When kids are allowed to use tech devices in their bedrooms, it can be tempting to stay up late surfing the net, preventing them from getting a good night’s sleep.
It’s important for people of all ages to get enough rest but it’s particularly important for children, who are still in their growing years. By banning tech from bedrooms, you can promote a healthy sleep routine and monitor their internet use more easily, while keeping your child safe online.
When every member of the family is staring at a different screen, it’s easy to feel isolated. However, tech doesn’t have to be a solitary pastime. In fact, there are a wide variety of activities you can do as a family when using tech devices. From downloading a movie on your Smart TV to playing on a games console, you can incorporate tech into your family time easily. You may even want to take part in an online family fitness class or host a virtual party!
As well as getting the most out of your tech setup at home, this helps to teach kids about the importance of using tech in different ways. When they’re having fun with friends and family, their focus is more on the people around them, rather than what device they’re using or what they’re watching on screen.
5. Stay up to date
Technology evolves at an extremely rapid pace and it is likely that your kids will be more knowledgeable about the latest trends than you are! However, it’s important to keep up to date if you have kids or teens who are using the internet.
Knowing about the latest social media platforms or how new devices work will help you to decide whether they’re appropriate for your kids. Similarly, understanding how to install the latest parental controls or how to safeguard your systems can help to keep your family secure online.
Other tips to keep your child safe online:
- Update software and antivirus programs regularly
- Keep privacy settings and safe search on
- Cover webcams when not in use
- Avoid joining video calls from their bedrooms
- Beware of free online education resources that ask for your child’s full name and photo.
- Teach your child to keep personal information and their location private
- Explain the risks of sharing information and photos online and ask to see what they are sharing before they post it.
- Know who your child’s online friends are
6. Incorporating tech into family life
There’s no doubt that tech is here to stay and it’s only going to become more integrated into our lives. By accepting tech and incorporating it into your family life, you can teach your kids how to use it responsibly and keep them safe online. From setting screen limits to encouraging your child to learn more about VPNs and proxies, you can nurture your child’s hobby while promoting online safety when you take a proactive approach to tech at home.
7. Control your family’s digital footprint
Each photo and personal detail we share on social media and the internet builds our digital footprint. The problem with this is it is public and can be used in ways you cannot control. Also, the information is there forever for someone to save it, use it inappropriately.
To keep your child safe online, teach her to control her digital footprint by being smart about protecting her personal information. The same applies to parents to overshare their children’s photos online. Be selective about sharing only with those you trust and know. Social media platforms now have privacy settings – use them.
8. Keep your location private
Advise your children to keep their location private – these days most apps, networks and devices come with geo-tagging, making your location public. This can point someone directly to you. Turn off location for privacy and safety.
Your digital photos also have metadata—information about the time, date and GPS coordinates—this is more information than you want to give. On social media this info is sometimes added by default so explore the settings and control what you share.
9. Keep track of online time
There is evidence that higher levels of screen time is associated with a variety of health harms for children and young people. Children aged 5-17 should ideally have no more than two hours of screen time per day. Clearly this is a challenge, so monitor your child’s time online, especially younger children.
Talk to your child and agree on how much time they can spend. For example, 30 minutes per session. Set a timer and make it non-negotiable. Turn off your home Wi-Fi at set times at night to give everyone a break from the internet. In fact, try making at least one day a week screen-free. Go outdoors. Be active. Do things that do not require technology to entertain yourselves. It is the most enjoyable way to keep your child safe online!
10. Lead by example
It is a fact that children learn through example – so lead the way when it comes to positive online behavior. If your child sees you being careful and respectful when you are online, chances are they will emulate you. This also means limiting your own screen-time.
It is not about scaring your child or holding her back from the various benefits of the internet. The point is to keep your child safe online by equipping her with the skills and knowledge she needs to make the most of her experience online.
How do you keep your child safe online?
What measures do you take?