The digital age has made parenting harder than before. The internet provides an excellent place for children to play and have fun. However, it is also a place with so many social evils. Online predators are on the loose, sending obscene materials to children and trying to lure them into engaging in sexual conversations. Some may even trick them into physical meetings, endangering their safety.
Horror stories of how such unscrupulous people are reaching out to children and manipulating them into uncouth behaviors are not unheard of. They are deducing newer ways of appealing to these unsuspecting kids.
The internet plays a critical role in everyday life, and you cannot isolate your children from it. Hence, the importance of devising safe online practices cannot be over-emphasized.
This article will discuss the five ways to protect your children while they are online:
1. Monitor your children’s online activity
Children want their freedom. However, good parenting cannot allow the luxury of unsupervised internet usage.
Children will eventually set up social media accounts and register for certain services. They will also have email addresses, among other things. As a parent, you must know what content your children view online. Get to know their friends on social media platforms. When in doubt, you can use Nuwber to verify people’s identities. Be honest with them and ask them to share their passwords. Let them know that you will be checking their internet activity routinely.
Teenagers are not likely to be comfortable with a parent accessing their social media activity. However, assure them that you are not overstepping on their boundaries but ensuring they are safe from the tons of evils on the internet.
2. Set ground rules about using the internet
The internet will play an integral role in the development of a child. From studying to interacting with friends, children use the internet for a variety of reasons.
Social media, particularly, is a great way to interact with peers. However, too much of it can cause children to withdraw from face-to-face communication. It also exposes the children to cyberbullying, among other things.
For these reasons, setting ground rules on internet usage is vital. Let your children know what is and what is not acceptable on online platforms. Consider the age of your child when doing this. The modern teens are particularly computer savvy and curious, the more reason that you should communicate to them on safe internet practices.
For instance, you can discourage your children from sharing sensitive information such as location, address, and contact. If it is necessary, encourage them to talk to you first.
3. Limit screen time
We live in a digital world where everything is going online. The internet provides an avenue for children to learn and engage in fun activities such as playing online games. Unfortunately, children may get lost in the online experience and lose track of time.
Limiting the time your children spend on the internet is an excellent way of protecting them. Toddlers, for example, should not have access to the internet. For kids, limit the time they spend on the internet to a few hours.
To further enforce this, encourage your children to engage in outdoor activities. Going out to play, taking a stroll, or riding a bicycle are activities that children will enjoy. They are a convenient distraction, especially if you need to keep your kids occupied and off the internet.
4. Put the computer or mobile device in a visible place
No child should be allowed to access the internet privately. Young adults and teenagers are curious and may visit adult sites and other dangerous online platforms. For these reasons, parents should put the computer and any other devices children use to log onto the internet in a visible place.
You should put these devices in a place where you can walk past them and see what they are doing. Considering that your child may have access to a friend’s WI-FI, having a computer in their room might tempt them to visit offensive sites. Such close monitoring is essential as it discourages children from bad internet practices.
5. Install internet filters and parental controls
Objectionable content is readily available on the internet. Streaming services have also become trendy. These subscription services have popularized online viewing, allowing more people to enjoy a host of shows and movies. They cater to people of all ages, with content for children and adults alike. Since access to explicit content is harmful to children, parents should use advanced tools and software to control what their children view.
Using parental controls and internet filters are some of the most effective ways of protecting children from inappropriate content. There is a host of degrading and unappealing content on the internet that children should not be exposed to. Internet filters act like a perimeter that blocks sites not suitable for viewing.
A simple step to this is to restrict the ‘adult’ category. These advanced tools also allow parents to block specific websites by including the site’s URL in the blocked category. Furthermore, parents can restrict downloads from suspicious sites, keeping their children safe and their devices free from malware.
Having control over what your children consume on the internet is of paramount importance. Technological advancements have made humans reliant on the internet, which has brought to life a breed of uncanny and terrible people who are only after taking advantage of innocent children. This is a good enough reason for parents to take the necessary measures to ensure their children’s online safety.
Parents should implement the points mentioned above and use them as their first line of defense against exposure to explicit online content. Besides, parents should note that children learn from what they see and not what they are told. As such, being a role model is vital.
Lead by example by not accessing objectionable content. Be cautious on online platforms and do not do anything that goes against safe online practices. The whole point is to equip them with the necessary knowledge and skills to avoid the dangers of the internet even when no one is looking.