For children, the online space represents a virtual playground where they learn new things, socialize and engage in all sorts of entertaining activities. But even though kids are now using smart devices and gaining access to online resources at an increasingly early age, the internet hasn’t been designed for children. Unlike adults, they are less aware of the risks they expose themselves to and are therefore much more susceptible to falling victim to online threats. Therefore, it’s your responsibility as a parent to keep potential dangers at bay and protect your kids online.
Be an informed parent
One of the reasons many children fall prey to online traps is because their parents don’t know much about what’s going on in the virtual space either. We can’t talk about protecting children from online risks when grown-ups themselves are oblivious to the potential threats that reside in the virtual landscape.
So, the first thing you need to focus on is boosting your own digital literacy and learning about online threats and the best ways to avoid them. There are plenty of things that can happen to your kid if you lack cybersecurity awareness.
Cyberbullying is prevalent in online settings, with children all over the world being affected by the phenomenon. The internet gives bullies the possibility to act anonymously and harass children and teens who are extremely vulnerable targets. Just like cyberbullies, online predators can also take advantage of children’s vulnerability and innocence to talk to them and groom them.
Let’s not forget that the internet is filled with all types of content that is in no way appropriate for children, including explicit materials, offensive language, or violent content that kids can access with just a few clicks.
Data breaches also pose an issue as many kids don’t think twice before sharing their information with various online entities, without releasing what could happen if their data gets lost or stolen. And although as an adult, you are entitled to claim compensation – which you can learn more about at https://www.databreachclaims.org.uk – should your kid be affected by a data breach, it’s preferable to avoid these situations altogether.
Teach your children about online safety
Since you can’t always be by your child’s side when they navigate the internet, you need to teach them how to spot potential threats that they may encounter online and how they can protect themselves against these risks.
By encouraging digital literacy early on you’ll be equipping your kids with the tools and knowledge they need to use information technologies efficiently, thus helping them feel empowered and stay safe in an increasingly digitalized world. The skills they develop during their young years will benefit them later on in life, making it easier for them to understand how things on the internet work as their online universe continues to expand.
Practice open and honest communication
Sometimes, talking about heavy and sensitive topics like online threats and cybersecurity can be as uncomfortable for parents as it is for children. However, it’s extremely important to have these conversations with your children as soon as they are able to understand these concepts and start using the internet.
There are many unfortunate situations that can be prevented by practicing honest and open communication with your kids and encouraging them to talk to you about their online experiences. This helps build trust and creates a safe and supporting space where children can share their concerns, clarify misunderstandings and ask for help or advice whenever they need it.
Set clear rules
Children are naturally curious and love to explore uncharted territories, unaware of the dangers that might lurk around. As a parent, you should give them the freedom they need to develop their independence and autonomy, but you also need to establish boundaries to keep your kids safe as they expand their horizons and step into new realms.
The same principle applies to online experiences. You shouldn’t let your kids roam around the internet as they see fit since they don’t have the ability to recognize common dangers and understand why certain things might be harmful unless you explain that to them. It’s important to establish clear rules around internet usage and let your kids know why these rules must be followed.
Use parental control software
Sometimes, technology can provide the solution to the issues it creates and parental control apps are a good example in this respect. If you want to know exactly what your kids are doing online and restrict their internet access so they don’t stumble upon inappropriate content, the best thing you can do is install parental control software on the devices they use. This is going to make it so much easier to monitor their online activity and intervene when needed.
Establish balance with screen-free activities
If you don’t want your kids to get addicted to smart gadgets and spend their whole day in front of a screen, you might want to encourage them to try other types of activities that don’t involve the internet. From reading and drawing to practicing sports or simply spending more time outdoors playing with other children, there are plenty of things that can keep your kids busy and entertained, and most importantly keep them away from online hazards.
With the internet becoming an integral part of our lives in recent years, it’s important that all parents acknowledge the need to focus on the online safety of their children. Hopefully, these tips will help you and your kids enjoy trouble-free experiences online and teach you how to become a more tech-savvy family.