This is Why You Should Have a Discussion About Internet Safety with Your Children
Young children these days learn how to use a smartphone or computer even before they start schooling. It’s easy to spot a toddler watching videos on his parent’s mobile phone at the mall or a young child playing online games with a phone in hand.
This early exposure to the web has many risks such as exposure to cyberbullying and many other types of dangerous online content. Parents should anticipate these concerns and discuss internet safety with their children as early as possible.
Mobile apps affect almost all aspects of our lives. New and exciting applications are always available ready to change the way we do business and live our lives. Although mobile apps have become indispensable, parents should learn how to keep their young children safe when using different apps.
Let’s focus on the importance of internet safety for families with young children and how parents can enforce web safety and controlled access on their mobile devices in this important guide.
Kids and Internet Safety
Your kids may be using mobile devices like smartphones, tablets, gaming consoles, and smart TVs to access the web. The internet helps kids discover new information to help them with their school work or their hobbies. They may also go online to meet with friends, play games, or stream online content like videos, music, and games.
But online access is accompanied by some potential dangers for kids. The web is full of inappropriate content for children. It’s the place where cyberbullying, cybercriminals, and predators look for vulnerable users, including children. The most common situation is when online predators pose as a child or a teenager who’s looking for a friend or a confidante. These predators may start by exchanging personal information with a child and acquiring the child’s address or mobile number.
Cybercriminals can also lull children into feeling comfortable when talking to the criminals and sending them photos or videos. Some predators may ask the child to pose inappropriately or perform sexual acts. Parents often find out about these things when it’s too late. Criminals have already acquired all kinds of information and the child may have already sent videos, photos, or engaged in dangerous activities.
Parents must always be aware of what their children are seeing and hearing when using the web. They must also keep themselves apprised of who their kids are talking to or engaging with online. If your child is using the web with your mobile device or computer or their personal gadgets, take action to protect your kids ASAP.
How to Talk To a Child About Online Safety and Other Techniques
Kids should be educated about the good and bad of internet usage. For example, platforms like the pirate bay can do a world of good to your kids in terms of downloading educational materials, E-Books, and more. Kids’ internet safety starts with parents. Parents and caregivers must be very careful about where they use and keep their personal information online. Most mobile devices have a save your password feature. Although this is helpful for adults, it could be dangerous for children who access social media. Leaving your social media account accessible from your device can result in cyberbullying and other kinds of online attacks. Parents should download apps that are similar to what their children are using so they will know what their kids are doing online. Also, setting time limits for how often and how long kids can use their mobile devices is necessary. Finally, parents can use online and mobile monitoring applications to check what their kids are doing and looking up online.
About Internet Safety Laws
Kids Health points out internet safety laws that parents and caregivers should be aware of. The COPPA or Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act is a federal law that secures children who are 13-years-old and below during online activities. COPPA prevents any group, entity, or person from gathering personal information from a child without getting a parent’s permission beforehand.
This law requires online sites not just to post their privacy policies but to explain them and seek parental permission before asking for and using information relevant to a child. Pieces of information such as the child’s name, phone number, and address are sensitive information and sites must ask the agreement of the parent before collection and use. Also, COPPA prohibits sites from asking kids for personal information just to join a contest or to play an online game.
Using Parental Control Tools
Parents must also make use of online tools to control what their children are accessing online. Online parental control tools can stop children from accessing adult content and other sensitive material online. Available software can track user behavior. Parents can monitor online activity and block sites that ask for personal information from users.
Teaching Kids About Online Safety
Every parent has a unique way of interacting with their children. Use the following tools to introduce online user safety to your children.
- Set family rules regarding internet use. No one should be exempted from this rule, even parents.
- Avoid posting personal photos or videos.
- Do not reveal your personal information including address, school location/name, phone number, etc. Never reveal information about your family.
- Tell kids to use a screen name and never share their passwords with anyone.
- Remind children to ask for your approval before chatting, video calling, or physically meeting with people they meet online.
- Avoid replying to threatening posts, messages, emails, and other online content.
- Teach your kids to be open to you and to tell you if a conversation they had online was hurtful or disturbing.
When supervising your children’s online time, be sure to stay nearby in case he needs your help. Place desktop and laptop computers in a common area – not in their bedrooms. If your child uses his phone or your device to access the web, monitor usage time and set limits.
If your child uses a computer in school, in the library, or at a friend’s or relative’s house, ask what kind of online protection is used to secure your child. Finally, beware of warning signs that your child’s safety is at risk online. Communicate with your kids and let them know you’re there to help and protect them.
Pranjal Bora works as Head of Product Development at Digital Authority Partners