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When you allow your kids to access the internet for the first time, it can prove incredibly difficult to monitor their online activity. The key to keeping kids safe requires a multifaceted approach that encourages openness and honesty so education is important! You must help foster positive and responsible attitudes in children who are exploring a world inhabited with potential dangers. There are many ways to do this and we have outlined 5 ways to keep your kids safe online below.
Discuss Internet Access
Just like you wouldn’t allow your kids to stay out too late, it is important to discuss their online activity and set reasonable rules. You want your kids to feel comfortable that they are able to come to you with any concerns. Exploring websites and apps together is a great way to build trust while educating your kids on how to safely navigate and use security features.
While online, it is highly likely your kids will encounter trolls, scammers, and hackers. Teach them to use security features that will protect their online accounts; such as block, privacy, and report functions. It is also important your kids do not engage with people who pose a threat online. There is a saying in online forums and social media platforms that has always held true – Don’t Feed the Trolls (DFTT). It is safer to immediately block and report these profiles, as they will most likely move onto to another target.
Stranger danger is just as applicable online as it is on the street. Encourage your kids to tell you if a stranger contacts them and tries to gain access to personal information. Keep all details set to friends only and ensure your child is comfortable coming to you if they are tricked into sharing information with a potential hacker, troll, or scammer. Never chastise your child for making as mistake, as he or she may not feel they can turn to you for help in the future.
Kids are easier targets for scammers who collect information through chainmail games. Show your kids examples of information that can become compromised through oversharing. Examples include date of birth, the name of your street, current pet name, and favorite music artist. All the details are used by scammers to access secure accounts by correctly answering common security questions.
Secure passwords are incredibly important for both kids and adults. Even if the website guidelines allow simple passwords, ensure your child uses a combination of random letters, numbers, and symbols that are all but impossible to guess. Longer passwords are also preferable as more characters make it difficult for hackers to crack the password combination.
Most devices have a password manager which you should use to keep your kids’ online accounts secure. Although using different passwords for each login may make it difficult to remember login details, it is a practice that helps ensure online safety. You should also get your kids into the habit of changing their password every thirty days and take advantage of multilayer login security when available.
Cyber bullying is becoming an increasing problem for kids. Make sure your kids know not to post compromising images, even if they think they are in a safe environment with friends. If you discover your child is being bullied online, gather evidence by taking screenshots. You can report bullies to the authorities or school once you have sufficient evidence of illegal behavior.
Your kids need to feel you are there for them if they are being bullied online. Never assume they are having a safe and enjoyable online experience. Ask your kids periodically if they are having any issues and let them know you are there to help resolve the problem.
For younger kids, it is important to use parental control software to limit the sites they access. Let your child know you are tracking their online activity to keep them safe, rather than spying on them. Again, do not create a situation where your kids feel they cannot trust you to understand their internet experience. You want your kids to confide in you if they do end up accessing content that poses a danger.
Accessing the internet together will set up the chance to discuss different types of websites and the content your kids are likely to encounter. Use this time as a teaching opportunity where you can show your child how to behave and encourage safe internet etiquette.
Anna is a stay at home mom, wife and owner of very demanding cat, from sunny Chatsworth, California. When she is not busy chasing her 2 year old around, you can find her trying out new salad recipes or re-watching favorite chick-flick movies.
Together with her hubby they educate kids and adults about internet safety through their website and recently created an educational children's book "Internet Kids - Road Trip".