The internet provides a wealth of information and is an invaluable tool in our modern lives. It also presents a wide range of dangers and temptations for children. Parents face the difficult task of protecting their kids online, and experts advise three core strategies to achieve success.
1. Parents Must Understand the Technologies Their Children Use
Perhaps one of the greatest challenges parents face in protecting their kids online is that they will most likely always be behind the curve. Young people are more open to embracing new technologies and often the driving force behind why these new apps, communities and so forth are created. If you are not a tech savvy parent, you have to put the time in to gain those skills and that experience.
But experts advise that protecting your children goes beyond mastering online shopping, navigating Facebook and the like. You need to experience what your children are experiencing. Consider that TikTok is the most popular social media platform in the world. Many of our children use it every day, but the vast majority of parents have never accessed it. It is recommended that you download these apps to your phone and use them so that you have context for your child’s experiences online.
2. Set Ground Rules and Enforce Them
Despite prevalent misconceptions to the contrary, children behavioral specialists tell us that kids crave boundaries. Sure, they may test them from time to time. But if you set fair ground rules that are designed to protect them and enforce them in a fair and consistent manner, most children are going to adhere to them, and that will make them safer and your job a lot easier.
The information provided to your children should go far beyond the rules themselves. Explain the reasoning for the rules and provide additional context, such as the kind of information you should not provide on social media and how you should be wary of social media personas until you know for certain that person is in your real life. If there are transgressions, make the rules stricter and add restrictions. Have your children earn back their full access and your trust in the process.
- Block Websites that is Not Kid-Friendly and Monitor What Your Kids Search Online
Children are very curious. Always monitor what your kids search online and what websites they visit. Parents should block websites like adult sites, game sites that is not suitable for kids and so on. You can search on Google how to do this or you may call your internet provider’s customer service to help you and guide you how to restrict websites accessibility. Many ISP’s have friendly customer service support that will help and guide their subscribers like Spectrum Internet, Frontier, and Metronet to name a few.
4. Encourage an Ongoing Conversation
Having a conversation with your children about internet safety should not be a discussion your dread and should not be an event that happens once or on an infrequent basis. All of us—parents and children included—have significant portions of our lives play out online. It is important to talk about these experiences, and be mindful that we can learn as much from our kids as they can from us.
Stay abreast of internet safety news and guidance. Talk to your kids each day about what happened online. If you encounter something new in the world of internet safety, discuss it with them. Do not be reticent to update your guidelines, and do not be afraid to involve your children in shaping those guidelines. Especially as they get older, that will give them an important sense of agency.
Parents who struggle with protecting their children online often lack the appropriate tools. If you are a parent that needs help, know that there are many resources available to you online. NetSmartz is a great place to start. It has free online courses for parents that will give you the information you need, and there are a wide range of topics, including gaming, cyberbullying and handling photos online.