In an age where technology is everywhere you turn, most children have constant access to the outside world via the internet. But when it comes to keeping up with what they’re doing online, many of us feel like our computer knowledge is lagging behind theirs.
So how can we be sure that we’re keeping them safe while they’re surfing the net or watching things on a computer, tablet or smart phone?
According to internetmatters.org, a new information site for parents, 74% of us want more information on and advice about child internet safety. But just as you supervise where your kids are going when they leave the house and who they’re spending time with, their internet activities need overseeing too.
Supervise Their Screen Time
Find out what activities they’re joining in with online. Get them to show you their favourite sites and social media – the most popular social media sites have a minimum age of 13, so find out if they’ve set up profiles on sites they shouldn’t be on yet.
Talk to your kids about how important it is to treat their online interactions like they’re in a public place. Make sure they know that they should only post information and photos that they’re happy for all to see and that they should never share personal information, like their real name or what school they go to.
Discuss with them who they’re chatting to in chat rooms, or on sites like Twitter and Facebook, and on email. Help them to understand what conversations you’re happy for them to have online, and that bullying and talking inappropriately about sex is just as unacceptable as it is when they’re in the playground with their friends.
To have more control over what websites are viewed at home, set up parental controls on your internet. They act as filters to block access to certain types of websites. Visit your broadband provider’s website for advice on how to set them up, or go to internetmatters.org.
TV on-demand services also offer a password-protected lock to prevent children from seeing inappropriate content, and You Tube has a Safety Mode feature that you can use to supervise what content your children are able to access. You can use Google’s SafeSearch too.
Making your kids aware of personal safety and potential online risks is really important, but don’t scare them. The internet is a great source of entertainment and education for them as long as it’s used in the right way.