Internet Safety for Kids: Guideline for Parents
There are billions of people who use the internet every day for entertainment, education, communication, career development, consultation, etc. Internet users have no age limits anyone can access the internet from anywhere. The Internet has become a major part of our lives and we can’t deny its advantages/benefits that make our life easier and comfortable with one touch. Unfortunately, it also has some dark sides like cyberbullying, inappropriate harmful content, undesirable people, malicious software, and online predators and the kids are at a high risk to encounter the above cyber issues. As a parent and an adult, it’s our responsibility to educate kids about Internet Safety Rules, also known as Cyber Safety or E-Safety and take safety measures to avoid unforeseen events. This is only possible when the parents are familiar with online risks, threats, and consequences. First, we will discuss Internet Safety and its importance.
What is Internet Safety?
Why is Internet Safety Important for Kids?
The internet is full of interesting videos, cartoons, images, stories, etc. and the kids are innocent and are not able to differentiate between good and bad websites. Encounter with bad websites and viruses are not the only threats for kids, companies are collecting our data to exploit us in many ways by doing inappropriate marketing, chat rooms, computer games, and social media sites are the biggest places of cyberbullying or cyber harassment and cyberstalking, that is harmful to child mental and physical well being. Parents should keep an eye on their kid’s internet activity, what type of content they are consuming, who they meet, how they interact on social media, and their changing behaviors.
Different Types of Online Danger
Phishing is a type of scam where scammers try to take your personal information such as passwords, credit card details, address, contact details, etc.
Piracy can be defined as sharing copyrighted material without the permission of the rightful owner. Usually it includes music, movies, TV shows, and software. Your child can be charged with violation of copyrighted policy if they unknowingly share the content.
Cyberstalking is an act to stalk or harass any individual, group, or organization that occurs online, like false accusation and defamation. The stalker may also be involved in identity theft, threats, monitoring, or gathering information that will be used to threaten or harass an individual or organization.
Malware is a software that is designed to collect personal information without the user’s consent and damage your computer or computer network. Malware is often distributed through email, bundled with soft wares, and downloads from unofficial locations. It has different forms such as viruses, spyware, scareware, and worms.
Cyberbullying can be defined as the online activity such as instant messaging, emails, text messaging and other forms of online communication with the purpose to defame, abuse, harass and suppress an individual or organization.
There are various websites on the internet that contain age-inappropriate content and you don’t want to show this content to your kids. It may include violent content, hate speech, and vulgar language. Often it is available in the form of Pop-Up ads and unsuspecting links.
Online predators use kid’s photos or videos to damage a kid’s reputations on social media or can be used outside the digital world. This affects a child’s personality very badly. Kids feel insecure and uncomfortable engaging in social activities.
Places Where Online Danger Occurs
Here are some digital places that can cause Online Danger
- Social Networking Platform
- Online Computer Games
- Emails from the suspicious accounts or Spam emails
- Software Downloads from unsecured links
- File Sharing Networks
- Chat Rooms
Steps to Protect Your Child Online
1-Create your Child’s Account in your Presence
Kids feel comfortable when parents engage with them in their activities. Parents are the best friends of kids, creating their accounts on social media, new websites, and apps in your presence to set passwords and take parental control because kids don’t know what they are really signing up for.
2-Keep Computer in a Common Area
Keep the computer in a common area to monitor kid’s internet activity. It will reduce the risks of interaction with strangers and visit inappropriate websites.
3-Set Up Privacy Setting
Every app has the option of privacy setting. Parents must visit the privacy setting option to make necessary changes of available features such as chats, location sharing, and cross-sharing of posts on social media, by turning off these features kids won’t be able to perform the unwanted tasks.
4-Setup the Computer for Parental Control for Convenience & Safety
Different Computer systems like Windows and Mac, apps and smart devices offer parental control features that allow parents to control over other user accounts. Some Internet Service providers and VPN (Virtual Private Network) also offer parent control features.
- These features allow you to
- set good screen time limit
- website restriction
- monitor kid’s online activity
- see the web history
- monitor child’s location
- restrict personal information sharing
By using advanced settings, you can restrict messages that possess personal details, limit interaction with unwanted contact on social media and the most interesting thing is you can restrict certain words and phrases from being sent.
To protect your computer and mobile devices from malicious programs and virus attacks install rigorous antivirus software such as BitDefender or Norton. Set Automatic Virus check and do a deep scan every month to make sure you don’t encounter unwanted visitors on your computer.
6- Keep an Eye on Childs Search and Browsing History
Parents can’t be available all the time to watch kid’s online activities. But they must check the child’s browser history frequently by visiting the browser history option. There is a probability of kids deleting browser history. If that happens, you need to be extra vigilant and talk to them to gain trust and set the internet usage rules. You can also use tools to do this, below are some tools
Google SafeSearch is a feature in google settings that allows you to block inappropriate and offensive or unsafe content in the result of your search query.
Here is the guideline on how can you do this
Family Link is a Google app that helps parents to monitor their child’s online activity and screen time by linking the parents account with the kid’s account.
Here is the guideline
FamiSafe App is a reliable and powerful parental control app that allows you to control screen timing, track real-time location, website filtering, and inappropriate content blocking
You can find it here
7- Bookmark Kids Favorite Website
It’s a good practice to mark your kid’s favorite websites for easy and instant access. It will eliminate the exposure of inappropriate content and unwanted interactions.
8- Educate Appropriate online behavior
The best approach to deal with online threats is to teach your kids online ethics. Below are a few advices you can give your child
- Teach them don’t respond to strangers.
- Take your advice when encountering pop-ups.
- Don’t share personal information, like address, name, school name, etc. without your approval.
- Tell them the consequences of sharing passwords and pictures on social media.
- Restrict them not to share passwords and personal information with friends and strangers.
- Educate them to communicate with you immediately if they come across online harassment and bullying.
- Never download unwanted files.
- Don’t be a part of cyberbullying, identity theft, and cyberstalking.
- Never go out with someone they met online
With this advice, it is recommended to regularly check their online activity.
9- Build Trust and give respect
Parents must gain the kid’s trust so that they can share all their problems with you. Parents should spend quality time with kids and engage in different activities to boost their confidence and trust level. Also, give respect to their opinions and advise them as a friend, don’t be too pushy. Once they start trusting you, they will share all the activities and come to you for solutions.