Panga is coming to an age where its all about the internet and that has really started to worry me, with smartphones and tablets now becoming must-have accessories for children of her age and older, access to the internet has never been more widely enjoyed by young people. Whether they are catching up with friends on social media, completing homework or enjoying a multiplayer game, children are online for increasing durations. But, while there are many benefits in terms of their development, kids need to be protected from more unsavoury aspects of the internet, with some simple solutions that will help to protect their privacy and their innocence.
An Open Conversation
Discussing the dangers of the internet is one of the easiest and most effective ways to help children to stay safe online. Ask your child to compile a list of favourite websites or apps and review these together; talk positively about what you think is safe but raise concerns about the content that seems to be inappropriate. Asking your child what he thinks is suitable for his age is a great way to give him ownership of his choices. Creating an open dialogue will also help your child to share his experiences if he should see something upsetting or confusing online.
Install Antivirus Software
Installing robust antivirus software and anti-malware is essential to protect the entire family against unwanted intrusions by third parties and will also help to keep your child’s personal data, as well as your own, secure. A product that features advanced parental controls can also protect your children when they browse online, for example by restricting access to certain types of websites, and will give you confidence that they can surf safely.
Safer Social Media
Social media is a part of many children’s lives but can be a source of bullying and threatening behaviour. Insist that the age restrictions stipulated by social media sites are observed and, when your child has an account, teach her to use the privacy settings correctly so her personal information isn’t widely shared. Children must be taught how to respond to malicious comments by using the ‘report abuse’ and block functions. Also, ‘If you wouldn’t do it in real life, don’t do it online’ is a powerful and persuasive adage for children to learn.
The Home Internet Café
With mobile technology rapidly developing, children can access the web from just about anywhere, but for your peace of mind insist that they are only allowed to browse when under supervision, such as in the lounge where members of the family are present.
Developing ‘internet etiquette’ is vital for your child’s safety, such as creating robust passwords, logging off when browsing is finished and avoiding clicking tantalising links to unknown webpages. Simple habits could go a long way to protecting him from the net’s worst dangers.
Enabling your child to enjoy the internet safely is possible by ensuring some simple steps are taken, so that he develops as a responsible web user who can make informed choices every time he logs on.