Internet Safety for kids is important. As with any technology, the internet comes with benefits and risks. Kids can use the internet to learn, explore, and connect with other people. At the same time, kids are more vulnerable when they’re online than when they’re offline. Predators, cyberbullies, and creeps of all kinds lurk in cyberspace. Scammers also take advantage of unsuspecting users. The risk of an online predator identifying your child as a potential target is greater than ever before. In today’s digital world, children need to understand the potential dangers lurking online so they know how to stay safe while using digital devices responsibly.
What is Internet Safety?
Internet safety refers to the protection of people, especially children and teens, against the dangers of online activity. As the internet has become an integral part of daily life, it’s important to educate people of all ages on how to stay safe while online. Early education can help kids understand both the benefits and the dangers posed by being online. It’s important for parents to set rules for their kids’ internet use and to be diligent about monitoring their online activity. Protecting kids online is a crucial part of parenting in the 21st century. For example, parents should familiarize themselves with the apps their kids are using and know their kids’ passwords.
Internet Safety: Tips for Kids
Talk to your kids about the potential dangers of being online. Make sure they know to never give out their real name, address, or age when chatting online. By pretending to be someone else, kids can avoid unwanted attention.
- Make sure your kids know that not everyone online is who they say they are. Predators, cyber bullies, and scammers are often intentionally pretending to be someone they are not.
- If your kid is being cyberbullied, seek help from an adult. Don’t respond to the bully in any way, even if the bully is pretending to be someone else. And don’t post the bully’s message online — this could make the situation worse.
- Teach your child to never share personal information online, such as their address, phone number, school, or full name.
- Stay informed about which apps your kids are using.
- Keep an eye on your kids’ internet usage.
Internet Safety for Kids When Using Devices
- Set limits on device usage: When, where, and for how long your kids can use their devices. Experts recommend a daily limit of two hours of screen time.
- Make sure your kids are following the rules you set for device use. Be sure they understand why these rules are in place and are enforced consistently.
- Restrict certain apps: Find ways to limit your kids’ access to certain apps and games. You can do this through your device’s settings or by installing parental control software.
- Educate your kids on the risks of being online: Let your kids know the dangers and risks associated with being online. Set rules, expectations, and consequences for device use to help keep your kids safe online.
- Manage wi-fi access: Make sure your child’s devices are connected to your home wi-fi network, not a public network. Never let your children use unsecured public networks.
Bullying and Predators: Internet Safety and Using Apps and Games
- Many social media apps don’t require users to enter their real names, meaning predators and online bullies may find it easier to target your kids.
- Kids who use apps that require them to log in through Facebook miss out on the privacy and control offered by apps like Instagram, which don’t require logging in with Facebook.
- When kids add friends or exchange photos or messages with people who are not verified, they are inviting danger into their lives.
- Apps and games that are free may come at a price. Be cautious of in-app purchases that may surprise you with charges on your credit card.
- Apps and games are often designed to gather information about your children. Be aware of what data your kids’ devices and apps are collecting.
Internet Safety and Privacy: The Dangers of Social Media
- While children and teens can be harmed by social media, teens and young adults are at the greatest risk.
- Teens are likely to be less discerning about who they accept as friends and may not be as careful about what they share.
- By the time your child is a teen, he or she will likely have an online presence that can follow him or her throughout life.
- Parents need to be actively involved in their teens’ social media lives.
Being online is a normal part of growing up, but it can come with risks. It’s important for parents to stay on top of their kids’ online activities and know how to keep them safe online. That said, we can’t be paranoid and distrustful of everything and everyone online. The internet is a great place to learn and explore, and we can’t let a few bad apples spoil the barrel. What’s important is that we keep our kids informed so they can make smart decisions online.