As a parent, do you worry about your child’s use of the Internet? Are you concerned about how to talk to them about internet safety? Webwise has 10 Tips to help you become a “webwise” parent.
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The advantages of using the internet far outweigh the risks. The risk of missing out on the education and social opportunities afforded by the internet is perhaps the greatest of all. The opportunities for self-expression and communication are too great to ignore.
But we need to moderate our children’s use of the internet in the same way we moderate what they watch on TV or what they do and where they go on the weekend.
Being a webwise parent is about engaging with your child – taking an interest in what they do on the internet and who they do it with.
#1. Encourage your child to not disclose too much
You need to encourage your child to be careful when disclosing personal information. They should be selective about what personal information and photos they post to online spaces. Explain that once material is online it can easily be copied and used without their permission. Once it is shared they lose control over who can see it and in what context.
#2. Discover the Internet together
Be the one to introduce your child to the Internet. This could make it easier to share both positive and negative experiences in the future. Teach your child about checking information they find on the Internet: not all information found online is correct. Educate your children on how to verify information they find.
Educate yourself with this handy and comprehensive Guide to Internet Safety.
#3. Agree with your child the rules for Internet use
Try to reach an agreement with your child on how long they should spend online and what types of sites and activities are ok.
Recommended reading: Screen Time : How Much is Too Much
#4. Talk about the risks associated with meeting online friends
Kids and Tweens really need to be on safe moderated social networking sites, where adult moderators monitor all conversations. Good kids’ sites will have an easily found page for parents, that describes their safety features.
Young people are making friends online and then meeting up with them face-to-face. Agree rules around this that are appropriate for your child. It is a good idea not to go to a meeting alone, always meet in a very public place, and make sure you know when they are doing this.
You may also like 10 Tips for Practical Internet Safety for Kids
#5. Teach your child to be critical of web content
Anyone can post information to the internet without restriction. Encourage your children to be critical of information they find online.
You may also like 5 Tips for Parents on Smartphone and Tablet Online Safety
#6. Don’t be too critical towards your child’s exploration of the Internet
Remember, it is not always their fault if they come across inappropriate content on the Web. You want your child to talk to you about things that bother them so don’t be too quick to attribute blame.
For younger kids, consider a child-safe browser, that ensures your child can explore an age-appropriate, safer internet. Here are a few options available (at time of writing):
- Safe Search Kids – Google Search Engine for Kids
- KidSurf – for 3-9yrs
- Zoodles.com – 3 to 13yrs
#7. Report online material you may consider illegal to the appropriate authorities
It is important that we all take responsibility for the web and report harmful content to the website owners and potentially illegal content to www.hotline.ie.
#8. Encourage respect for others
As in everyday life there are informal rules for how to behave when relating to other people on the Internet. Encourage your child to be respectful of others when communicating online.
You may also like Cyberbullying – Top Tips for Young People.
#9. Know your child’s Internet use
To be able to guide your child’s Internet use, whether it’s on their mobile phone or PC, it is important to understand how children use the Internet and know what they like to do online. Familiarise yourself with the sites they frequent and use. If you are looking for information visit www.facebook.com/webwise.
#10. Remember that the positive aspects of the Internet outweigh the negative aspects
The Internet is an excellent educational and recreational resource for children. Encourage your child to be explore the Internet to its full potential.
How do you monitor your child’s Internet use? What tips do you have for other parents? Please let us know in the comments below.