Online Safety for Kids – 7 Tips to Ensure Kid’s Internet Safety Parents Should Follow
Change; as we know it, is the only constant in this world. The streets no longer look like they used to in the 80’s or 90’s, and distant communication no longer happens in the form of postcards. Perhaps, the biggest difference between the “retro days” and the “modern era” can be summed up in a single word: “Internet”.
The young are always better at adapting to changing times. Their affinity towards technological advancement confirms the same. Nowadays, you are much more likely to find a kid playing “Angry Birds” on his/her smartphone rather than playing ball with his friends in a playground. Well, that is only the “offline” side of things.
A study from 2013 suggests that out of every 10 kids (falling between the ages 3-17), 6 had access to the internet at their house. Now, when the internet is supposed to be a nurturing platform to share information and facilitate the growth of humanity, why is it so alarming that little children are being exposed to it? Why are parents always anxious about their kid spending too much time online?
Well, the following key points will appropriately answer the question above.
- Your information is not safe on the internet. In the year 2015 itself, half a billion digital identities were either stolen or exposed.
- Exposure to sexual content on the internet during the early stages of a child’s life thoroughly disrupts his/her way of thinking. During the early years when children are supposed to learn about their sexuality in a healthy manner, exposure to pornography embeds false values and beliefs in their heads.
- A huge chunk of young people is bullied online. According to a report, the figure stands at 52%.
- The fact that the term “catfishing” exists in the online world is yet another reason that makes parents concerned about their kid spending too much time online.Catfishing is the phenomenon in which a person fabricates his/her identity in order to pursue a romantic relationship. The threat of being tricked into romance by a fraudster at a stage when children aren’t mature enough to deal with such complex emotions is always looming online.
- Spending too much time on social media platforms is a hindrance to a healthy lifestyle. Internet addiction is a productivity killer.
So, the next obvious question that must pop into your head is what can you do to make sure that the well being of your children is not damaged by the internet.
To answer that, here are 7 tips that every parent must follow to ensure the safety of their kids online:-
#1 Start Early:
Don’t wait for something bad to happen. As a parent, you are supposed to educate your kids about the different spheres of life and inculcate positive values in them by being a guiding influence. Extend the same courtesy by warning your kids about the ill-effects of drifting into wrong places on the internet. Most importantly, warn them at the right time!#2 Enter Into Their Online World
Don’t entitle them to a state of privacy they aren’t prepared for. Children are beings who can be easily influenced. They might not come up front to you about the things that they know you would object. Given the presence of factors that can act as outside influences, for e.g. the peer group in the school, children are likely to wander into the wrong corners of the Internet without realizing how harmful it is for them. However, parental monitoring software comes to the rescue here. A tried and tested one is Tispy.net which allows you to track & monitor all online activities of your kids.#3 Block Adult Websites
Pornographic content is lethal for children. It can promote violent behaviors and questionable morals. Therefore, it is your duty to block access to adult websites on your kid’s smartphone. Restricting access to adult websites will foster the ideal mental development of your children.#4 Monitor Installed Apps/Browser History
The reason why this is so important is that the onlineworld has no boundaries. The Blue Whale Challenge was a devastating phenomenon. This 21st- century phenomenon claimed actual human lives. You wouldn’t want your child to engage in similar activities. Monitoring their installed apps and browser history can prevent that.#5 IM Apps are Dangerous
Whatsapp, Snapchat, Instagram, Hike, Line, and what not. The number of IM apps on the internet is only growing day by day. Cyberbullying is not an uncommon occurrence on such platforms. Since there is no moderation as to what type of content is being shared via IM apps, sharing of explicit content is yet another risk that your kids are exposed to.Parental Monitoring software can yet again enable you to establish a bubble of safety around what your kids do on IM apps. GuestSpy is an example of an app that can aid you in monitoring the activity of your kids on IM apps.
#6 Monitor Gallery
IM apps provide a platform to share media content that includes images as well. Instagram is yet another popular portal where sharing of images is facilitated. The reason behind the precaution stated in bold letters is that you need to know what kind of pictures your kids are clicking with the phone’s camera, or receiving over the internet. Explicit images lying in the gallery of your kid’s smartphone are a red flag. It means that the dark side of the internet has got to them.#7 Teach Them To Protect Their Privacy
The internet is not a safe place to share personal information. It is a common saying nowadays, “If something is on the internet, it will stay there forever.” You need to educate your kids about the value of protecting their privacy. Everything doesn’t need to be shared online. Teach them to keep sensitive information like phone numbers, email addresses, postal addresses, school addresses, etc. to themselves. Furthermore, make sure your kids don’t come in the physical contact of a stranger they met online.
Contrary to the above discussion, the Internet is not all bad. If used with the right intent, it is a massive storehouse of information that can enable kids to come in the vicinity of countless opportunities. Thus, don’t stop them from using the internet altogether. Instead, regulate and redirect its usage from time to time.