Kids today are smart little humans and keeping stuff from them is never a good idea, especially in the era of technology that we all reside in.
But not everything online — or every online activity — is well-suited for kids and teens. What can you do? You can help monitor online time and activities in various ways. Just set guidelines and check in with your kids to make sure they’re followed. You might also consider a parental-control app to help you manage some of these tasks.
If you’re concerned about your children’s exposure to the internet, here are a few ways to help your kids stay safe when they go online.
WAYS TO PROTECT YOUR CHILD ON THE INTERNET
1. Get an education yourself.
Most parents are behind their children when it comes to the latest in Internet technology. Kids today have tons of social media options, download music both legally and illegally, publish information about themselves that others can see, enter into online dialogue with strangers, and surf the Internet for the latest information, both good and bad. As a parent, you have to learn what’s out there and how the system works.
2. Monitor what your kids are doing online.
You might decide to let your kids get their own email address, set up social media accounts, and use the internet unsupervised. If so, it’s a good idea to check in on what they’re doing.
Let your kids know you’re going to monitor their devices and why. Ask them to share their account passwords with you. Let them know it’s not about snooping, it’s about safety.
It can help to know what your kids are texting, downloading, searching, and watching. That knowledge could be used to open a line of communication.
For instance, your children might deal with an issue they don’t know how to bring up. Or they may not know when they’ve encountered something unsafe online.
If they happen to run into inappropriate content or online behavior, you can talk with them about safety and what to do. Once your kids have a better grasp on how to safely use the internet, you might consider monitoring them less frequently.
3. Block adult content access.
Installing parental control applications are usually made to keep children from either just randomly happening upon adult sites or for those who are actively searching them.
By blocking specific keywords, you can limit a lot of other sites that you would otherwise not be able to prevent individually.
Moreover, you can also keep track of complete search histories of the computer that your kids use. Parental monitoring applications allow you to track anything your child searches on the World Wide Web and save it in an online cloud.
4. Put the Tablet/Computer in a Public Place.
Children should not have private access to the Internet. The temptations are too great. The computer should be in a place where Mom or Dad can walk by and see what’s going on. Keep in mind that privacy is a privilege, not a right. Children on the Internet are faced with new and challenging temptations so close monitoring is essential.
Parents should be able to read emails and review sites that the child has visited. Keep in mind that in this age of wireless Internet access, a child with a computer in a bedroom may have access to the Internet through the neighbor’s open WiFi system.
5. Limit uploads and downloads.
Another feature of spy applications is to limit the size of any file that is being uploaded or downloaded. This means your kid cannot download everything.
The software will automatically block any downloads and uploads taking place above a specific limit. This way your kid will not be able to upload a lot of pictures and information about themselves which is otherwise considered personal.
When it comes to downloads, you don’t want your kid to spend excessive time downloading movies that are not made for their age group either. Similarly, you can also block content from specific sites and domains like pornography sites.
6. Set Up Time Limits.
The needs, age, development, character, and maturity of each child should be taken into account as you set up guidelines for computer use. Some children shouldn’t be on the computer at all because they aren’t responsible enough to handle it. Computer addiction can start very young so setting firm limits is essential for balance in a child’s life.
Set up appropriate boundaries for your children and a system for monitoring them. Some computer safety programs have built-in timers that allow parents to set limits on a child’s computer time. Be ready to adjust the boundaries and guidelines based on a number of factors.
7. Use parental control apps.
This is of huge importance. Use parental control software to prevent things from getting out of hand. There are plenty of free and commercial versions of these tools to choose from. Parental control software keeps track of your kid’s whereabouts, makes it easy for you to restrict the amount of time they spend on the Internet and provides an effective way to ensure they steer clear of unwanted websites.
If your child really wants to visit a certain site, the application can be used to send you a message with the appropriate request. Additionally, you can submit special messages that lock your kid’s device or specific apps and won’t unfreeze it until they send a response. Such software also allows you to whitelist apps. All in all, an effective parental control tool is a one-stop solution, giving you sufficient privileges on all of your child’s devices to take no chances in terms of their safety online. Monitoring and limiting what your kids do in cyberspace is completely normal in today’s world.
8. Lead by your own example.
Lead by example and always model the kind of positive online behaviour you would like your children to use. If they see you being cautious and respectable when you are online, they are more likely to follow in your footsteps. And, yes, this includes limiting your own screen time.
Ultimately, you don’t want to instil fear in your child or prevent them from experiencing the many educational, entertainment, social and other benefits of the internet, but rather give them the skills and knowledge they need to know how to make the most of it and avoid the dangers.
The Internet is not a safe place for children to be left to wonder about openly. There are things and people that your kid is too innocent to comprehend at the moment, and that is why it is your job to make sure the internet that your kid is exposed to is safe and secure.