Internet safety is important, now more than ever. School-aged children have so many resources at their fingertips to explore the world wide web. From video game consoles to phones, many of their devices can connect to the internet, giving them access to any and everything.
What are the risks?
The content your child may have access to is expansive and ranges from innocent and child-appropriate videos to simulations of violence, abuse, and sexual content.
There are also people online that can gain access to and influence over your child. Chat rooms, social media, and video games have given strangers—regardless of age—the opportunity to contact and share things with your child. This increases the risk of identity theft, cyberbullying, sexual misconduct, scams, and the sharing of violent and inappropriate content, creating unsafe situations for children.
How do parents reduce these risks?
These risks may seem vast and continuously growing, but there are several ways you can help protect your child to provide them a safer internet experience.
Some suggestions include:
- Monitoring your child’s internet use by putting their computer in a common area within the household
- Teaching your child strategies to protect themselves online, including sharing uncomfortable situations with a safe adult
- Installing filters on your computer
- Bookmarking approved websites
- Advising your child to avoid risky activities like clicking on pop-ups
It’s also important to encourage your child to keep their personal information private. Just as they shouldn’t tell personal details to a stranger on the street, they shouldn’t share this information online either.
Also share with your child what is and isn’t appropriate to say online. It’s important they know that their words and actions are there forever, so they should be mindful of how they act and what they say.
These are just a few ways to prepare your child for using the internet in a safe way. However, as children get older and want to explore more, you will need to share more safety tips and establish new boundaries.
There are several resources available to help you to protect your children as well as to help educate yourself on best practices for having a child that’s online. Valley Oaks also offers targeted resources to help you and your child if they become a victim of cyberbullying or sexual misconduct. Taking an active role in your kids’ internet activities can help minimize risks and keep everyone safe on the internet.