According to Scholastic.com, one out of every 5 kids receives sexual solicitations online. This equates to 20% of all kids on the internet. Predators and cyber bullies target children and they can be a vulnerable, easy target if they don’t know what to look for. Teach them to recognize potential dangers and make sure they understand how important it is to keep their information private and to only share personal information with family and friends.
So, what can we do to keep them away from offensive language, inappropriate pictures, and otherwise unfit content that’s on the internet? Below are some tips to help get you started in keeping your children protected. It’s never too early to start.
- With young children, it is possible for them to inadvertently find themselves wandering around on a site they didn’t mean to find. In many cases, you can keep this from happening by asking your Internet Service Provider if they offer parental controls. Many browsers, such as Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, and Firefox, provide this service. Activating parental controls will let you set controls for your child’s computer and allows you to restrict them from running programs that you don’t want them to have access to.
- Early on, teach your child to keep private information private. Insist that they never reveal their real name, where they live, where they go to school, or even where they play. Be sure they also know that this rule extends to all members of the family, meaning that NO ONE’S information should be given out – not even parents’ or siblings.
- If your child is old enough to be Instant Messaging, you have the right to ask if they actually know each and every person they message. Make sure they are messaging real friends from real life and not someone they “think” they know. Monitor their messages and be sure they understand the potential dangers of communicating with someone they don’t know. Children can be easily fooled.
- Make sure your child uses “Strict” privacy settings for all their online accounts which keeps their information, pictures and posts limited to only friends. Without “Strict” settings, it’s possible that anyone on the internet could see your child’s interactions – even though they are meant as private.
- Require them to be on their electronics in a central location where you can easily see their screen. You can also casually walk by and engage with your child every few minutes to keep them from getting distracted into their online world.
- Another important issue to think about is that you don’t want your child accidentally downloading malware or viruses. Teach your child how to know what is safe to click on and what is not. Do not let them download anything before you look at it for approval. You don’t want the family computer ruined with the click of a mouse!
- You can also check your child’s browser history to see what sites they visit. Be sure to know what sites and apps are popular with your kids and do your best to learn about and understand them. The more informed you are, the better you’ll be able to help them avoid an unwanted encounter.
Following the above 7 tips is a great place to start to help you keep you, your children, and your entire family, safe online.