The internet offers information, knowledge, and entertainment for children, who can use websites and social media to complete their homework, connect with friends, and play games.
However, the internet also has many risks, including cyberbullying, inappropriate or adult content, and online predators and groomers. For instance, one in five children sees unwanted sexual content online. In addition, your child may give out their personal details or even arrange to meet people they do not know.
As a parent, you need to be aware of your child’s online activities and take internet safety very seriously. Today, we’ll cover everything you need to know about online safety, so your children can browse the web safely.
Read on for more information.
Firstly, Make Sure You Know About Internet Safety Laws
The COPPA (Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act) protects children when they use the internet. This federal law is intended to prevent children from sharing their personal details without parental consent.
The COPPA ensures websites provide information about privacy policies and get consent before using a child’s personal information (name, phone number, address, etc.). In addition, the law also stops children from needing to provide too much personal information to enter online contests or play games.
You can find out more about COPPA here.
Consider Investing in a Parental Control App or Similar Tools
A parental control app is an excellent way to monitor your child’s online activities and prohibit them from accessing inappropriate material or speaking to online predators. While many ISPs provide control options, you may also want to try dedicated software or apps for your device to block sites, restrict information sharing, and track online activity.
Keep the Conversation Open With Your Children
While blocking inappropriate content is a good way to keep your children safe, you should also teach them about online safety and responsibility as well.
Consider setting the following guidelines to keep your children safe online:
- Set family rules and ensure everybody follows them; let your children feel part of creating these rules.
- Do not post personal images or selfies online.
- Do not reveal personal information (including school details).
- Never share passwords with strangers; always share passwords with parents.
- Do not agree to meet any internet friends without parental consent.
- Do not respond to inappropriate or threatening messages.
- Always confide in a parent or family member about communications that make you feel uncomfortable, hurt, or scared.
Parents may want to follow these guidelines to supervise their children:
- First, make time to browse the internet with your child and teach them how to behave online.
- Keep the computers, laptops, and other devices in a family room where you can monitor your child’s activity.
- Save or bookmark your child’s favorite websites, so they don’t have to use search engines unnecessarily.
- Check your phone and credit card bills for strange activity.
- Listen to your child if they mention something that makes them feel uncomfortable online.
- Contact local law enforcement or the FBI if your child is approached by an online predator or views illegal material (such as child pornography).
Look for Online Predator Warning Signs
If online predators are grooming your child, you may notice the following warning signs:
- Uncharacteristically spending too much time online
- Receiving phone calls from strangers
- Receiving gifts to your home
- Turning off the computer when you enter the room
- Becoming reluctant to engage with the family
- Unwilling to talk about their online activities.
If you notice any of these signs, let your children know they can speak to you about any issues without judgment.
What to Do About Teenagers
Once your children reach a certain age, they are entitled to a degree of privacy. This makes it harder to keep an eye on their online activities. However, this is a normal part of growing up in the modern age. The internet represents a gateway to freedom, new experiences, and knowledge.
However, you should still talk to your teens about their app and website usage, warning them of the dangers of interacting with people they do not know and reminding them that people can hide their identity online easily. Let teens know that they should not share any passwords, even with their romantic partners or close friends.
Even though your children are growing up, you can still take a positive role in their online activities, making sure they are safe from potential dangers and securely enjoying the internet’s benefits.