Living in a high-tech world, it seems that having a child has never been more challenging. Surely the internet has improved so many aspects of our daily existence, but the fact that our children are being exposed to it so much is slightly frightening mainly because their social life has moved to the virtual space.
This is the very reason internet safety has been an important factor every parent should consider. If you’re new to the whole parenting thing, here are X things you should know about this issue.
1. Internet is often a tool for harassment and abuse
You have certainly taught your children not to talk to strangers and not to give them private information. The same rule applies to the Internet. Even “innocent” questions like “do you have a computer in your own room” can point to evil deeds.
Agree with children on important things in Internet communication, such as how personal information is used. Many websites require personal information (authorization) in order to have access to certain content and services.
Such information is needed for a variety of reasons, for security, or to make services available. It is important to teach your child when he is allowed to leave personal information online! The easiest way is to agree with the child not to leave personal information without your consent. These include name and surname, address, the school he attends, e-mail address, telephone number, personal photos…
2. Interacting with strangers is dangerous
The Internet is a popular place for virtual meetings and children want to make new friends online. To avoid unpleasant or even dangerous situations, it is important to teach your child to never just go to meet a stranger. Such meetings require someone whom the child can trust (older brother or sister, parents…)
3. Beware of gifts
Pedophiles lure children with gifts such as cell phone vouchers or, for example, by buying songs or movies online. If someone on the street gave your child money, you would be worried. Giving money in the virtual world is even more dangerous.
4. Your child should report to you any inappropriate behavior by individuals
If your child complains that someone is abusing them via email, newsgroups, forums, social networks, or chat, report the user to the website administrator or in the case of email and newsgroup abuse services.
5. Contact the competent institutions in case of harassment
When things get out of hand, for example, you find out that a child has sent someone their nude photos or received some, do not hesitate to report the case to the police. Their job is to help you deal with this the right way.
6. Internet safety means blocking access to unwanted sites
If your child is not of legal age, then you should consider limiting its access to websites like those with adult content. There are ways to control and limit the use of the Internet by children.
By using the history tracking tool in the browser, you can see which pages have been visited, and you can use filters to restrict access to certain Internet pages. There are also various programs for monitoring and restricting the use of the Internet (parental control software), or making your network more secure, like WeVPN.
7. Agree on games and length of Internet browsing
Computer games are a favorite pastime for children. There are different variations of them – from pedagogical, action, and useful, but also those with a lot of aggression and violence. Psychologists claim that children clearly distinguish between virtual fantasies and violence from the rules in real life.
However, we recommend that parents pay attention to the choice of games. Choose together those games that develop motor skills, imagination, memory… But keep in mind that the most quality time is spent playing with its peers, in real-life.
8. This issue requires constant education
Children are growing up with a computer today. Understandably, there were no computers in your youth. It is therefore essential that you educate yourself about the dangers that lurk so that your child can safely experience all the benefits of the Internet. And since it is constantly evolving, it is important to keep yourself updated.
9. Search the Internet with your child is a smart strategy
It is useful for you and your child to discover the Internet together. Try to find interesting, fun, and useful web content together. This will build a relationship of mutual trust with your child and make it easier to refer to certain inappropriate content.
10. Letting small children surf alone should be avoided
Just as you do not let your child out late at night, do not allow it to surf alone. When a child should start surfing without parental supervision, or with limited supervision is individual and depends on the child, but this should definitely not happen before 12 years of age.
11. Develop Internet etiquette
There are many rules of good behavior in Internet communication. It is easy, for example, to test borders on chat, under the protection of anonymity, to say things we would never say live. Tell the children that it is important that they treat others the way they would like others to treat them.
Adults most often use it at work or to gather information. Children use the Internet for other things. Talk about it with your child. Ask it to show you its favorite sites and ask why certain topics and content are exciting, interesting, and appealing to it.
Children, and especially teenagers, seek privacy, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have a right to know who the child is hanging out with, both in real life and in the virtual. Many parents freak out and decide to ban internet use completely.
However, this is not the best decision. Not only will it cause an unwanted, opposite effect because “forbidden fruit is the sweetest” but it will deny your child an important source of information to learn and excommunicate him from friends who certainly use the Internet.