Your kids can access the Internet from many different devices today. The proliferation of laptops, tablets, smartphones, and game consoles that are all connected to the Internet means that it will be harder than ever for you to control and protect your kids from dangers lurking on the web.
Still, there exist many strategies to help you can make sure that your kids surf the web in a safe way.
Remember that no approach is bulletproof, and therefore you should implement various tactics to reduce the chance that your kids interact with unsuitable materials on the Internet or become the victim of a pedophile.
Here are 8 ways to protect your children online.
1. Stay on top of the cyber game
Most of the time, parents are behind their children when it comes to IT technologies. Kids can choose from many different social media options to interact with others and publish information about themselves publicly. And you should know all of them – especially platforms that are trending among the age groups of your kids.
There are many ways in which your kids can talk with strangers. As a parent, it is your responsibility to learn what’s out there and be aware of how the Internet works and what the most common threats to kids on the web are.
2. Establish ground rules
Since the Internet has become an integral part of the lives of our kids, parents often forget that using devices is a privilege and should be treated as such. Your first step is to establish rules for Internet use. Write them down and post them in a place where your children can see them, for instance in the kitchen.
It’s smart to ask your older kids to help create these rules with you and define the consequences for those who fail to follow them. Remember that even the youngest kids need Internet boundaries. Be sure to remind all your family members that the rules you set for the web are there not because you want to restrict them but keep everyone safe.
3. Place devices in a public space
Make sure that your kids don’t have private access to the Internet, especially early on. The computer should be located in a place where parents and other family members can walk by and see what kids are up to. Close monitoring of children’s interactions on the Internet is necessary at every age.
As a parent, you should review the websites your child visits once in a while. Remember that we live in the age of wireless Internet access, so if your child has a computer in the room, they might be able to connect that to the web through your neighbors’ open Wi-Fi.
4. Use parental control software
One study from McAfee revealed that around the age of 16, 56% of teens will conceal their Internet activity from their parents.
That news might be unsettling, so you need a smart tool in your arsenal to make sure that your kids’ activity on the web is more transparent. That’s where parental control software comes in.
That type of software records your child’s Internet activity and it automatically blocks inappropriate material. You can choose from many different tools that offer a wide range of features, for instance the ability to restrict access to certain keywords, websites, or games.
Some programs out there are able to create detailed reports about your kids’ online activity and even alert you via text messages when your child attempts to perform a restricted function, for instance join a social network.
Tell your kids that their activity will be monitored before implementing the software and talk to them about your expectations regarding their behavior on the web.
5. Bookmark websites for your kids
Surfing the web poses a threat because your kids might stumble upon a website that contains inappropriate materials or ads placed by pedophiles who count on kids to click on them. That’s why as soon as your kids begin to use devices and get online, show them how to bookmark their favorite websites to help them avoid inappropriate sites or spam.
6. Be clear about downloads
Teach your kids to always ask for permission before they download something or click on an ad. You don’t want your kids to accidentally download a virus that will destroy your devices. Remember that your child might be exposed to sexually explicit films or images, or have their personal information stolen as well, so use software that helps to protect computers from suspicious downloads, as well as viruses or spyware.
7. Teach your kids to protect their privacy
This is a key lesson for all kids that connect to the Internet, regardless of their age. Remind your children to never give out personal information, for instance their name, telephone number, or home address to people they don’t know through email, social media, or in online chat rooms.
Many people still don’t realize how risky it is to share their personal information online.
You need to help your kids realize some of the risks of interacting with strangers through the computer and sending that type of information. Tell your kids to never open emails from people they don’t know or respond to hurtful messages.
Also, make sure they never get together with people they met online – it’s enough to give them a couple of examples of what might happen when they don’t know who is really on the other side.
8. Set limits using devices
As your kids gain more independence with time, it will become harder to control their device use. Be sure to set a limit on late-night Internet surfing at an early age. That’s how you will minimize the chance that your kids will be contacted by someone lurking on the web.
Sexual predators often work during the day and spend the evening hours targeting children online. They also do that because they realize that children have less supervision during the evening and late-night hours.
That’s why you need to make sure that your kids don’t access the family computer during the night. You can place it in a room they can’t access once the home security system is set.
Protecting your kids from online threats is an complex task because the Internet is full of numerous potential dangers.
It’s not only about sexual predators who might be lurking around the the web, but also about individuals who are interested in stealing your kids’ data for various purposes. Use the strategies and you will be on your way to ensuring that your children know how to surf the Internet safely and can tell that someone might be dangerous.