Growing up in this digital era can be quite scary. There is a bit of maturity that needs to take place when venturing out on the internet. The consequences for a misstep can follow a person for the rest of their lives, and these consequences can be hard for young kids to understand. But as our lives become more and more intertwined with the need for electronic devices, it is important that we, as parents, do everything we can to keep our family safe. Here are some tips on how to do just that:
1 Educate your kids. Talk to your children about the importance of being safe online. It is important that they know why they must keep their information private, what catfishing is and how to interact with other people. Always keep lines of communication early and let them know what the rules are as well as its consequences.
2 Take away all the devices at night. When everyone goes down for the night, keep all phones, tablets, and laptops out of their rooms. Devices at night interfere with proper sleep and make it easier for children to access things without your parental supervision. When they are playing with these items, let them play with them only in designated public spaces in your home such as the living room or kitchen. This way you can monitor them easily.
3 Stay up to date with the trends. As parents, you need to consistently educate yourself on the latest new social media apps your children might be using. Make sure that you connect with your children’s account so that you can monitor activity. If they don’t want to connect with you then they can’t have that social media app.
4 Talk to them about phishing. Phishing is when people send fake text, emails, and pop-up messages in an attempt to gain personal information from the user. Criminals use this as a way to commit identity theft. Talk with your children about what to look out for and to never give out personal information without consulting you first. Also, talk about being careful about downloading any files or attachments if you don’t know who the sender is.
5 Use your parental controls. Check with your internet provider to see what kind of boundaries or controls you can put on your internet to protect your children. Many of these services are free and can limit your children’s access to not only websites but to also communication features such as chat, message boards or emails.
6 Set house rules. Let your children know the rules and boundaries before they step online. Let them know which sites they are allowed to go to and which ones they are not. Set time limits and the consequences of breaking them. Print these rules out and display them near the computer that way there are no questions. You can find already made rules or contracts online by googling, “Internet Safety contract.”