Exploring the internet can be a wonderful learning experience for your kids. From learning through interactive games, doing research for their project, watching informative TED talks addressing important educational topics to starting an actual blog.
Teaching your kids the ins and outs of using the internet is crucial for their technological development and will leave them with a sense of fulfillment and achievement. Just like you’ve taught your kids not to speak to strangers or walk home by themselves, you also have to teach them to take precautions when it comes to internet usage.
Understand Before Explaining
These days many kids might be more tech savvy than what you would expect, from what they learn from school, their peers and friends. However, that doesn’t mean that they are aware of all the risks involved when using the internet. You should therefore make sure that you know the principles of online safety by ensuring that you know the actual internet, from lingo to the most popular social platforms. Find out where your child spends their time and get to know the platform in order to apply your safety principles on the right environment where your kids might have accounts.
It’s also important to understand the different types of threats and risks online. Make sure you get to know the following terms: Cyber-bullying, Malware, Piracy, Phishing, Revealing too Much, Cyber Stalking and Obscenity. Learn what ‘clickbait’ is and spotting an online virus then share all these terms with your child.
If you are practicing internet safety, your kids are likely to follow your example. Spend time with your child online and show them what steps you are taking to protect your identity. This should inspire them to do the same or at least create an awareness of things to look out for.
Avoid Strangers Online
Suggest that your kids avoid online chats with strangers all together and NEVER share personal information on these platforms. Many times these online predators ‘hang out’ on online gaming platforms to find their victims. They might even try to ‘lure’ your kids by promising them certain artifacts, armour or gaming tips. Ask your kids to let you know when a person approaches them with these tactics. Alert the authorities of his/her username just in case they’ve been looking for them.
Online chat forums and chat boxes within games can be the easiest way to open the ‘door’ and let the wrong people ‘in’. Encourage your kids to handle online interaction in the same manner as they would in person. It’s much easier to cross the line when they are protected by their username and anonymity online, where they might have rather backed down from a fight if it happened on the school ground.
Explain to them that there is no use in starting arguments with strangers or other users since it might not be resolved in a mature manner. Teach them to refrain from upsetting or bullying other users as they also deserve to be treated with respect.
Empower Them To Do The Right Thing
Even though your intent is to educate your child and keep them safe, the manner in which you teach them the safety ‘rules’ will determine whether they follow them or not. Individuals are more likely to do the right thing when they feel it’s their choice. Of course, it’s important to stipulate some ground rules when using the internet, but instead of just saying ‘no’, explain to them why it’s not a good idea.
Allowing kids to make their own choices will make them feel like you trust them and are treating them like adults. When there is a good platform for transparency and trust they will be able to come to you if they made a mistake or feel uncomfortable within a situation.
The Basic List for Kids
- Don’t click on any links or attachments from unknown email senders.
- Only chat with people that you trust and know in real life.
- Set your privacy settings on your social media accounts.
- Don’t share your address or personal details on social media, online chats or forums.
- Don’t trust everything you read online.
- Alert your parents when something out of the ordinary happens.
- Only access age-appropriate websites and software.
- Ask permission before downloading.
As a family, you can minimize the risks by limiting ‘online time’ as well as placing the computer in a central living area. This will prevent users from feeling they can ‘get away’ with something and it also means that the parents are close by to ask questions or voice concerns.