As the internet becomes a more integral part of our everyday lives, parents need to be mindful of their children’s online activities. As such, you need to come up with an actionable plan to protect your kids from cyberbullying, predators, and inappropriate websites.
However, this is easier said than done. According to research, 97% of all children regularly used the internet in 2020, and seven out of ten used a laptop device. Luckily, there are numerous things you can do to ensure your children are safe online. Follow these tips to get started:
Talk Openly About Internet Safety With Your Child
One of the best things parents can do to ensure their child’s online safety is to discuss what they are viewing online and who they are speaking to. Ideally, parents should start these conversations early and carry them on as their children get older. Convey what you deem appropriate online and let them know that this may not be the same for their friends and their parents.
That being said, parents should also consider what their children want to do online and work to incorporate their child’s wants and needs into the conversation. After all, children often think they are above and beyond whatever their parents say; showing them respect and offering compromises is a good way to keep them safe and allow independence.
In addition, parents may want to talk to their children about their online actions, encouraging them to think about how they behave with other people online. Let your child know that things posted online will not go away as easily as they may think; anybody may be able to see what they post.
Keep Devices Where You Can See Them
If you have younger children, you should always monitor their online time. Your best option is to keep the computer, laptops, or tablets in a central spot in your home where you can see what your child is viewing at any time. Mobile devices are harder to monitor, but there are things that can be done, either using parental controls on the device or using the restrictions settings of many home WiFi systems, so children can only go online when you allow them. If it makes you feel comfortable, come to an agreement that no devices are allowed in bedrooms; you may want to use that rule yourself to set a good example.
You may also want to check browser histories after your child has been online to ensure they are not looking at inappropriate content. This becomes harder once kids get older and learn how to wipe their internet history, which is why you should instill honest conversations about internet use from an early age.
Understand Parental Controls
Nowadays, innocent searches can produce inappropriate results on search engines. As such, you need to understand how to use parental controls and search restrictions on devices, ISPs, and web browsers. For instance, Google has a safe search filter that blocks many adult websites and similar content. While this is not 100% effective, it does help prevent your child from accessing sexual or violent material. Visit Internet Matters for more information on parental controls.
Similarly, you may want to invest in a child safety app for parents like MMGuardian. This app offers numerous parental controls, including website and content filters. In addition, you also get reports on your child’s internet activity, the ability to block or allow specific contacts, and a time limit to stop your child from using the device too much.
Take Time to Know Your Child’s Online Friends
We all know that certain people pretend to be somebody else when they are online. Unfortunately, children are quite naive and may not notice any warning signs about the people they are talking to, especially if you have not taught them caution from an early age.
As a parent, you should make sure your children are only talking to people they know and monitor their posts. Consider adding those contacts as friends. You may not seem like the coolest mom or dad, but your child will be safer.
These are just a few ways you can keep your child safe online. Implement them from an early age so your child can experience the positive aspects of the internet and social media with minimal risks.