Parents, do you really know what your child is doing and viewing online? Do you and they understand the importance of online safety? The children of today have an abundance of new, digital technologies at their fingertips. This includes smartphones, laptops, tablets, iPads, smart TVs, and everything else that’s connected to the internet. Learn about the potential threats and discuss their online safety with them.
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In many surveys conducted globally, parents admit that they often have little oversight of what their children are viewing and doing online. As a parent, it’s important to get familiar with all the hidden online dangers and cybersecurity risks children can face in a bid to educate our children to keep them safe online.
What are the Most Popular Websites for Kids?
Video is one of the most popular mediums for both adults and children to consume content. In repeated surveys, YouTube shows up as the most popular website used by children. This is followed closely by video game websites, and subsequently, TV shows and movies.
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What are the Potential Online Threats for Children?
There are millions of websites that children view that are perfectly safe for watching video content, playing games or researching and learning about the world. However, the openness of the internet means that there is also a vast amount of unsafe and unregulated material to be found online that any child could stumble across.
As parents here are a few potential threats to consider and look out for. These should be discussed with your children to ensure that they browse the internet as safely as possible.
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Lack of Authenticity
Your child needs to understand that not everything they read is correct. Absolutely anyone is capable of writing things on the internet. Therefore, if your child is using the internet to research information for a school project, it’s important that they cross-reference the information with a trustworthy source to ensure the information is valid.
On the internet, it’s easy to lie. So, it can be extremely difficult to tell if a person is actually who they say they are. There have been countless cases in the past where malicious people use the internet to “make friends” with children.
You need to make your child aware that they should be wary of talking to strangers, even if they seem nice. And that they should never, ever arrange to meet anyone they have met on the internet.
Make sure they know they can come to you if they feel unsafe or unsure of anything they read or messages they receive online.
Social media, messaging apps, email and text can be used as extremely powerful harassment tools. They can be used to intimidate or bully others with messages. Images and videos posted by your child can be shared inappropriately with others, causing embarrassment, hurt and worse.
Talk to your child about what they share, how they comment and how others can use this to harass and harm.
Studies have shown that too much screen time can contribute to a variety of health-related conditions. This includes eyestrain, obesity, as well as social isolation.
It’s easy for anyone, kids and adults alike, to get addicted to using the internet.
Whether your child is simply chatting online with their friends from around the world, or playing online video games, they might become so deeply absorbed into cyberspace that the other, real people in their life tend to fade away into the background.
So, if you find your child displaying any of the following symptoms, they could be developing an addiction to the internet.
- Moody or withdrawn behaviour
- Spends more time online than with real-life friends
- Prioritises internet use over other things such as eating, sleep, or schoolwork
Look out for potential online dangers and keep the lines of communication open with your child.
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How Can Parents Educate Kids About Online Safety?
As it is with other types of safety, it’s important to start discussing online safety with your child at an early age.
As soon as they start learning about or using the internet, it’s a good idea to sit them down and talk with them about some of the safety concerns that surround internet usage.
They might still be too young to be using the computer on their own, however, this age is an excellent opportunity to teach them that just like the real world, there are both safe and unsafe things to be found online.
It’s also important to discuss the ways that they can protect themselves when using the internet. They might still be too young to learn about using VPNs or proxy websites, but it’s a good idea to teach them to only visiting websites that they know.
Teach them the importance of using a password. And how to create a strong, sensible password, as well as explaining to them why they need to be using different passwords for each one of their accounts and of course, they must never share these passwords, even with their friends.
As your child gets older and begins using the internet independently, ensure they understand the dangers and that you are always there for them to discuss anything that makes them feel uncomfortable or unsafe.
Online Safety For Kids – 6 Essentials
- Never post anything online you wouldn’t want everyone to see, even your parents!
- Don’t talk to strangers
- Set privacy settings (you could do this with your children)
- Be suspicious of public Wi-Fi
- Use Secure Passwords
- It’s okay to ask for help
You need to trust your children, they will make mistakes online but be there for them when they do.
Over to you now. What’s your experience of teaching your child about online safety for kids? Leave a comment below and let us know – we’d love to hear from you!