Keeping kids safe online is one of the most important focuses of parents today. The world that our kids are growing up in is much different from that of our youth. When I was a child, my parents and teachers taught me about ‘stranger danger’ and tried to protect me from those with bad intentions. Those people still exist today, but their approaches are a bit different.
According to statistics, around 89% of sexual advances made toward children were made in online chat rooms or on other social media chatrooms. As a parent, it can be difficult to facilitate keeping kids safe online. Especially since many parents spent most of their time outdoors rather than sitting in front of a screen all day.
The internet has become the norm in modern-day. Almost everything we do revolves around technology. As our kids grow older, that’s certainly not going away. While they are children, the risk of getting hurt, whether emotionally or physically is too high to ignore.
When it comes to keeping kids safe online, there are many things you can implement into your children’s lives. These things will make their free time online enjoyable while also allowing you to be worry-free and confident that they are secure and protected.
Keeping Kids Safe Online
Talk to Your Kids
Children get stuck in bad situations online because they are uneducated about the dangers. Having a conversation about internet safety is a great way you can make sure you are keeping kids safe online.
Once you decide to allow your children to use the internet, set time aside beforehand to talk about boundaries. Depending on how your child learns, you may choose to show them statistics or simply explain these dangers in a way they can understand.
This really can’t happen soon enough. I learned this first hand with my own daughter, who is 11. Although she was not doing inappropriate things online, some of the comments that were made to her on an app were.
Make sure to revisit this conversation often. Things that you have discussed initially may have more meaning after your child has spent time online. Also, there may be new dangers that you will need to address as the online world grows and evolves.
Only Visit Trusted Websites
Keeping kids safe online can be overwhelming when you consider the vast amounts of websites at their fingertips. Many are malicious to your computer, and some are even specifically designed to lure kids into unfavorable circumstances.
Your best weapon against these dangers is discretion. Only allow your children to visit trusted apps and websites that are age-appropriate and secure. Outline ‘dos and don’ts’ clearly. For example, let them know which safe game sites they can play on.
It can be helpful to post a list of “allowed” websites near the computer or draw up a contract detailing the information.
Set consequences for straying outside these boundaries and stick to them. Children are experts at testing boundaries and need structure to remind them what’s important. If you let it slide when they break these rules, you risk them visiting an even worse website next time.
Check for Parental Control Software
There are many filters that you can choose from when setting up parental controls. Some will allow you to block certain websites or require a password for websites that you have not pre-approved. You can also limit the amount of time your child is able to use the computer as well.
The best thing about parental controls is they are easy. They’re also usually free with your internet subscription. They are also versatile and can be modified as your child grows or shows interest in new websites.
Move the Computer to a Common Room
You might be surprised to find the trend of positive behavior online when the computer is in a common room in the home. This can be placed in the living room, kitchen or any other place in the house where adults frequent.
If you want to keep closer tabs on your child without hovering over their shoulder, this could be a great middle-ground. Oftentimes, the increased risk of being caught visiting banned websites can deter kids from surfing them.
Additionally, this can be a great way to learn their online playing field. If you familiarize yourself with the sites they are visiting, you can educate yourself more effectively on what you can do to be sure you are keeping kids safe online. Also, when you know which sites your kids are visiting, you can personalize conversations and advice to them, guaranteeing your child knows the risks and rewards of the things he is doing.
As parents, it is critical that we are proactive about keeping kids safe online. By following the tips above, we can greatly reduce the chances of them becoming victims.