With more children and parents depending on technology in virtually every area of their life, it’s no wonder online safety has become a huge debate. While some will suggest helicopter parenting children, other parents seem to take a hands-off approach to their kids’ surfing habits. Unfortunately, there’s no rule book on how to protect your kids from potential evils lurking online. Here are 5 tips to help keep a safe distance from troubles with technology.
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1. Check Online Friends Carefully
Whether your kids are playing a game online or they’re chatting in a public forum, it’s always a good idea to keep an eye on virtual friends. Websites like https://checkpeople.com can help you identify any suspicious individuals your little ones are frequently encountering. This can also help verify people your children hang around with (like friend’s parents) for any past suspicious behavior.
By keeping tabs on who your kids are associating with, you’ll know the potential risk factors they’ll face with maintaining those friendships, virtual or in “real-life”.
2. Limit access to websites
Unfortunately, only one letter can make the difference in a domain, changing normal content to adult-theme or worse. Setting up safeguards and restrictions through your web browser can help limit exposure of online content you don’t want your children to see. Keep in mind that browsers only have specific guidelines and recommendations when it comes to specific content, like pornography, meaning you’ll still have to monitor their online activity.
Incognito browsers (sites that don’t trace or record history or cookies from the webpages visited) are loopholes to these parameters in place, meaning children can use the functionality to access restricted content without your permission. Avoid downloading browsers with this functionality, whenever possible.
3. Talk To Children About Shared Information
With increased dependence on apps and online platforms, children can become susceptible to disclosing personal information without realizing the implications. Many users on the gaming platform take advantage of vulnerable kids by promising free rewards in exchange for their password or email address – leaving them open to hacking.
It’s easy for predators to contact children, pretending to be a peer or person their age too. With gaming platforms designed for kids, many conversations about family, friends, school, and even siblings get disclosed readily. Make sure you teach your children appropriate boundaries and guidelines for sharing information online.
For younger children, limit online friends to only “real-life” companions. Set up an account that you can regularly monitor, especially before the age of 16.
4. Prohibit Social Media Apps
Many online platforms disclose age, name, and location-specific information, meaning your child may be readily giving their specific GPS details out to strangers online. Recommended ages are given on social media apps and with good reason. With so many platforms creating disappearing chat, provocative videos, and hidden content, children can easily become targeted to online bullying or predatory behavior.
Many children find these platforms addicting, especially Snapchat and Pinterest. Hours spent on the device can lead to bullying, trolls, and attacks online – particularly if your child gets into a disagreement with a friend or acquaintance. These behaviors develop into a habit of fear of missing out (FOMO), placing strong importance on pop culture and social connection.
5. Set Rules And Limits Online
Between cellphones, tablets, television, and laptops, it seems children are exposed to technology constantly throughout the day. Schools rely heavily on correspondence and virtual learning, with homework being submitted online. Take the time to evaluate how much technology is useful to a child and how it impacts their physical and mental wellbeing. Children over the age of five should be limited to two hours of screen time a day(including television). Talk to your kids about what they are doing online and see how they react to platforms.
Limiting screen time is one way of curbing online risks with technology. Make sure to write down and enforce the limits of technology, whether it’s the amount of screen time altogether or specific types of technology. Consider spending one or two nights a week together as a family screen-free; play a board game, read each other stories, or tackle a new family project. Leading by example is an easy way for children to understand the need to step away from the devices and move on to something else.
Although these may seem basic, simple steps you can implement within your home can help protect your children from the dangers found with technology. As our society continues to develop a stronger dependence on virtual platforms, we mustn’t lose sight of online safety and security. It’s also important that our children aren’t exposed to unnecessary risks in the process too.
By monitoring usage, enforcing screen limits, developing and enforcing rules online, and limiting social media apps, you’ll remove a lot of the risks facing our children, pre-teens, and teens in a virtual, technology-dependant world.