How do you keep your children safe online?

Technology — a blessing or curse?

You may have heard of the common argument of whether technology benefits or harms us more several times. Regardless of the outcomes, we can’t deny that living without our smartphones, laptops and internet-connected devices is somewhat impossible now. The internet allows us to stay in contact with overseas relatives, family and friends, share special moments with loved ones, shop and sell online, be aware of current events, and so much more. Consequently, internet addiction rates range from 1% to 9% of the population, according to a study published in 2012. And as smartphones, tablets, and other smart gadgets become increasingly embedded in our lives, internet addiction is most likely to increase.

However, using wifi-connected devices in moderation is one of the strategies to help establish a healthy relationship. And due to the increasing awareness of internet addiction, many have made it a priority to set up time limits and boundaries. And what’s an even more pressing matter is the open-access children have to the internet nowadays.

In this day and age, there are many threats to children’s internet safety. As a parent, it is your job to look out for invasions of privacy, cyberbullying, and harassment. Parents are also best suited to monitor kids’ activities online. If anything goes wrong online, it is most likely that a child will confide in their parents. Therefore, keeping a close eye and understanding what children/young teenagers do online is crucial in shielding them from digital threats.

Explain the concept of internet safety to your children

Remember to always be up to date on the latest technologies, apps and social media trends that could potentially harm kids or young teenagers. Next, bring awareness that online threats exist to your kids. By educating them, they will naturally become alert and cautious and always make sure to turn to you in case of a bad experience.

Some of the online dangers you should discuss with your kids are:

-inappropriate websites

-Pop-up ads and malware

-online frauds and scams

-sexual predators

Preventing a dangerous situation from happening in the first place is key, and therefore, it is crucial to maintain open and relaxed communication with your kids. Never exhibit angry reactions or make them feel as if they are being interrogated. Listen carefully to their questions and concerns and ask them to confide in you if they encounter uncomfortable things online.

Set online safety rules

After explaining the online dangers and hazards, it’s vital to set clearly defined rules that protect your children and help them understand all the potential risks. To help you get started, we’ve curated a list of standard internet safety rules applicable to children and young teenagers.

Take time out to sit with your kids, and explain each rule to them one by one. Answer any questions they might have, and remember to maintain a friendly tone.

1. Never give out any personal information: name, birthday, home address, phone number or any official documents/social security number.

2. Do not engage in conversation with strangers.

3. Set time limits for being online to ensure a healthy relationship with browsing the internet.

4. Report any strange incidents, inappropriate messages, or strangers attempting to contact you to parents or any trusted adults.

5. Never make arrangements to meet someone you’ve met online. If the child is persistent, make sure they are accompanied by either the parent/trusted adult.

6. If you receive any harmful or bullying messages, inform a trusted adult/parent and let them handle the situation.

7. Do not post your picture on public websites.

What parents can do to keep their kids safe online

Many parents believe completely restricting their children from the internet (to “protect” them) is the only way to prevent online threats. However, this isn’t a feasible method and will only lead to more harm. Children and young teenagers will probably find ways to go online anyways and might find themselves in dangerous situations.

It is up to parents to create and establish healthy strategies that both the child and parent agree upon. Here are some ways you can keep your kids safe online without compromising too much of their liberties.

– Integrate parental controls

In 2016, Pew Research Center survey results showed “39% of parents used parental controls for blocking, filtering or monitoring their teen’s online activities”. And the percentage has only been rising ever since.

Why is that? Well, parental controls are a great way to monitor what your children are doing and allow them to access the internet without the looming threat of online dangers. Apps like BriteKey™ contain easy-to-use Parental Controls through which parents can monitor web activity, restrict access to social media, and manage time spent online — wherever they are.

Detailed analytics show device, duration, and timestamps for online activity, and parents/trusted adults can block any URL or entire categories of websites (such as gambling and adult content) to keep kids safe.

-Ensure your children use their devices in a common area of the home

Designate a spot in your home where you can conveniently monitor your child while they use the internet. This will allow you to carry on with day-to-day tasks and see what types of websites your child uses. Keep an open dialogue with them, and remember to show interest in their online adventures so they may confide in you more naturally.

It is also crucial to know what devices your child uses, any social media accounts they might have and their passwords. Remember to observe their behaviour daily and look out for any changes that could result from cyberbullying or contact with online sexual predators.

-Use security software or tools

Make sure to invest in security software/tools that could monitor network traffic and block unwanted traffic for your kids. Antivirus systems also help in blocking inappropriate pop-up ads. Through security software, you can implement firewalls to help prevent criminal hackers from trying to break into your network and access personal information.