It’s practically impossible for children to reach their preteen years without having used the internet. That’s why it’s essential to teach them to be wary of online dangers as soon as possible. Internet safety is crucial for young children. Here are some easy tips that parents can share with their children.
Protect Your Privacy
It’s essential to properly create, store and secure passwords. Hackers can easily access and tamper with accounts. Advise your child to make different secure passwords for all of their accounts. You can show them how to use password generator sites. Also, websites might ask for personal information when your child opens an account, signs up for a subscription or uses a forum. Let your children know that if a website asks for their address, date of birth or social security number, they should stay away. Make sure all privacy settings on their account are limited to their friends. Block users who appear suspicious or who have had their accounts hacked.
Think Before Posting
It’s easy to type something without thinking, and it’s easy to post angry messages anonymously. Your child might not even consider the consequences. Inform your children that everything they post on the internet is permanent. Mean-spirited words posted when younger could affect later job opportunities. If you find out that your child has been bullying others online, have a conversation with them. Make sure the post is taken down and explain the consequences for your child and others. To get the message across, it might be helpful to ask your child to say the words they typed out loud. It’s not quite as easy as typing it out.
Don’t Trust Scams
Phishing scams sent through email can be difficult to spot. These emails send your children to fake websites and ask for personal information or add a virus to the computer. Advise your children to never give out personal information on unfamiliar websites — or at all — without your permission. If they receive an email from a business they don’t recognize, tell them they should question it. Read the email in its entirety before clicking on any links. If it appears suspicious, report the emails to the company listed as a contact.
Restrict In-App Purchases
Though many games on the app store are free, they may offer features and upgrades for a fee. To turn off in-app purchases on iPhones or iPads, follow this guide. Parents can also enter a password themselves if they’ve approved their child’s purchase. Android, Amazon and iOS devices offer these options.
Take Care and Limit Use
While there’s a great deal of safe, child-appropriate content online, there’s a great deal of “adult” content as well. Children are bound to stumble upon dangerous or frightening content if not protected. Enabling a safety mode on websites like YouTube can be critical to filter out potentially inappropriate content. Encourage healthy conversation between you and your child about the kind of websites they visit and whether or not those are appropriate. Also, compulsively using the internet at all can cause severe stress in your child’s life. Monitor the sites yourself but also set boundaries. You might want to limit your child’s internet usage to an hour on weekdays with more time on the weekend.
Text by Anna Khan