By JO SZAKALLAS
More than 60% of children use the internet at home, and while there are many benefits to giving youngsters online access, including improved learning opportunities, it’s crucial that parents take their children’s internet safety seriously. This means proactively taking steps to safeguard kids while they’re browsing online.
Block inappropriate content
1 in 5 children between the ages of 9 and 17 have seen unwanted sexual material online. Sadly, it’s all too easy for kids to stumble across this material following an innocent online search or by clicking on an ad. The good news is that you can easily reduce the likelihood of your child coming across this content by setting up parental controls on your broadband and by encouraging the use of safe search engines over traditional ones.
Track online activity
The majority of social media sites have a minimum age restriction of at least 13. However, as the sign-up process is typically a tick box exercise, younger children may still gain access. This is a cause for concern as it could lead to your child being harassed. 92% of cyberbullying occurs on social media, according to Teach Thought, and it can consume their life if it’s not dealt with. To protect your child online, it’s recommended that you track your child’s online activity. Apps such as mSpy and The Spy Bubble can be downloaded so that you can keep an eye on the sites your child is using. If you do discover that social media sites are being used inappropriately, a conversation should be had with your child about why they’re not age-suitable before disabling their accounts together.
There is an alarming trend among teens that are old enough to use social media; oversharing. Pew reports that 20% post their cell phone number online, 71% post their school name, and 71% reveal their home town or city. It’s also common for them to post pictures and videos of themselves and details of their current location. As a parent, you should actively discourage the sharing of this information as it puts their safety in jeopardy, puts them at risk of their identity being stolen, and could even hinder their future job prospects.
Keeping your kids safe online is a never-ending job, but it’s also a crucial one that mustn’t be ignored. Thankfully, these tips will ensure your child browses the net securely which will alleviate your worries every time they pick up their smartphone or tablet.
With the internet, parenting can be a tricky task. If you or someone you know are looking for guidance on subjects like above or additional parenting education, Nebraska Children’s Home Society offers FREE parenting classes to participants. Click here to learn more.