Internet safety for kids is a relatively new thing because the internet is a relatively recent invention that has only experienced a boom in the late part of the 20th century. It has completely changed the way we gather information, so much so that we are now living in what is touted as “The Information Age.”
Those born in this generation can easily acclimatise to technology, like fish to water. Children as young as 2 years old already know how to use smartphones and tablets to access their favourite shows on YouTube, or to play their favourite games.
While it is okay to allow them to use their gadgets, albeit in moderation, how often do parents check what web pages and applications their children are visiting? As they grow, so does their curiosity. They may migrate from the safe, parent-approved games they like to play, or websites they like to visit, to newer, potentially unsafe sites and apps.
There are parents that tend to be wary about monitoring their children’s Internet usage. For them, it feels like an invasion of their privacy. Children are certainly entitled to privacy just like any other adult. However, they are at an age where they are vulnerable and therefore, more susceptible to be taken advantage of by unscrupulous people. Therefore, parents need to put certain safeguards in place and look at internet safety for kids.
Most smartphones, tablets, laptops, and desktop computers nowadays have parental controls in place. These controls restrict access to websites with content geared towards those who are 18 and above. It is advisable to activate them before allowing your child to use them.
However, this level of protection is not enough. Unscrupulous people are getting more clever, and can bypass these parental controls so that underage children can access their content, and vice versa. It is still imperative to take an active interest in what your children are watching or browsing online, particularly with older children.
Lets Take a Look at Internet Safety For Kids
Here are things you can do when discussing about Internet safety for kids with your child:
You can open the discussion with:
“I understand that the Internet allows you to expand your horizons, but, at the same time, I want you to have a good experience while browsing. I am going to set some rules in place for your safety.”
Then follow it up with these set of rules. To make it less “authoritarian”, and more collaborative, use “I” statements instead of “Dos and Don’ts”:
- I will never give out my personal information, such as my full name, birthday, home address, contact numbers, and school.
- I will use an email address that does not give away any details about my personal information.
- I know that I can talk to my parents whenever I encounter media that may be sensitive or uncomfortable for me.
- I will talk to my parents first before I download any social media apps. They need to make sure I am mature and responsible enough to understand the risks.
- I understand that the ones I engage with online are people with their own thoughts and feelings. I will treat and talk to them with the same respect as I do with people I interact with face-to-face.
- I understand that I will encounter unpleasant people, who might tell me hurtful things and criticize what I share online. These are strangers, whose validation is not as important as my own.
- When I do get bullied, I will screenshot and save evidence of it, just in case. I will also discuss it with my parents, or, if I am uncomfortable, with another trusted adult that I interact with face-to-face.
- For my own safety, under no circumstances am I going to meet up with the people I talk to online. I understand how easy it is to create a different online identity, therefore, the people I talk to may not be who they say they are.
- I will talk to my parents about the sites I visit, and the people I talk to. I trust that I can be open with them without being punished about it.
- I am allowed to monitor the content that my parents post about me on the Internet, especially in social media. If they post a photo or video of me that makes me uncomfortable, I can ask them to delete it.
You can reword it to adjust to your child’s age level, have it signed, and post it on your family room, or a room they often use when they are browsing. You can also ask them to add their own rules.
It also helps to set limits on the time they use the Internet and their gadgets, but this is easier to do when they are younger.
The key to Internet safety for kids is to discuss this with your child, and to let them understand that you are doing this for their safety. It may be difficult, but it is not impossible to achieve balance between monitoring Internet safety and providing privacy.
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