The internet is a fantastic and valuable resource for children, but it also provides a number of avenues through which children can be vulnerable or exposed to unsuitable content. However, managed and monitored correctly, there are several ways in which you can help ensure your children stay safe online.
A few tips:
- Educate yourself about some of the online technologies available to your child - such as Facebook, Messenger, chat rooms, social networking sites, and blogs
- Regardless of if your child in on a smart phone or PC be sure the internet is accessible in a public area of the home, rather than allowing children to access it from their bedroom or behind a closed door
- Make it clear it's okay for them to confide in you if something happens (for instance, if they're approached by a stranger who makes them feel uncomfortable) and this won't result in their internet privileges suddenly being revoked or limited. Make it clear it's not their fault
- Implement reliable security software on your family PC that tracks and logs which websites are visited, allows you to allocate specific timeframes for internet usage, and blocks unsuitable content
- Use the internet alongside your child and show you're interested
- Educate children that the ‘facts’ they find online might not be genuine. Let them know that this can also apply to the new 'friends' they meet online - they might not always be who they say they are. Stranger danger online is the same as stranger danger offline
Important – In a number of cyberbullying related youth suicides parents have said they had no idea that their child was even being cyberbullied – they had not told them. Kids are concerned that if they tell their parents about cyber issues their technology will be taken away which will make the issue worse and sadly they opt for suicide as a solution. Tell your child if they ever have an issue in this space they can talk to you without the fear of losing their computer rights or having their mobile taken away.