No matter what we do or how hard we try, the internet is part of our everyday lives. We use it to go shopping, browse topics on the net and our kids are even using the internet as a preference to traditional literature. As adults, we know that the internet can be a dangerous place, but kids may not. But we can help protect our kids and give them the confidence to use the internet responsibly. Here are some cyber safety tips you can introduce into your home:
Keep devices where you can see them
You’d be surprised just how much a parents gazing eye can influence a child’s decisions while online. Having the device in a more communal space such as the kitchen or living room can help minimise suspicious activity and can give you peace of mind that your child is doing what was expected of them. Direct the screen towards you to make quick checks on occasion (we don’t want to be invading their privacy, so be mindful of how often you’re checking in).
Turn on parent controls
There are various tools parents can use to protect their kids on the internet. Most internet service providers offer free parental controls. There are also a number of parental control software packages available for purchase, but check if you can access a free version first. There’s also various apps on offer which allow you to control multiple devices. Windows and Mac computers, iOS and Android phones and tablets, and gaming consoles all offer parental controls as well.
Set some age-appropriate rules
Putting some rules in place can be useful and also give you peace of mind. Simple things like introducing limited screen time, checking posts before they’re published, knowing who your kids friends are, and keeping a logbook of passwords are a great place to start.
Other tips to share with your kids could include not sharing personal information, don’t talk to anyone you don’t know, don’t agree to meet up with anyone you don’t know, don’t respond to threatening emails, messages, posts, or texts, keep location private and setting profiles to private.
Be open and honest about cyber safety
Our kids are getting access to the internet at quite young ages, so when the time comes talk to them about what they are reading, watching, where they are posting and who they’re talking to. Warn them about malware, dangerous websites and catfishing. Ask them about their experiences and if they are having any issues. Let them know that they can come to you if they’re uncomfortable online or they notice something that’s not quite right.
At the end of it all, it’s meant to be an open conversation. So let them talk freely without criticism or paranoia and keep the conversation going as they get older.
Hopefully the above tips have made the topic of cyber safety slightly less daunting and has given you the confidence to implement some of these strategies into your home. Most importantly, if at any point you notice a change in your child’s behaviour, talk to them about it. If you are concerned, consider seeking from your GP, a psychologist or school counsellor.