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Parent's Guide to Internet Safety for Children

Parents Guide to Internet Safety Keeping Children Safe Online

It is important for parents to understand digital media and provide their children guidance in navigating the internet.  Tips on how to keep your child’s online experiences positive and productive. Learn the truth about what can keep your children safe in the digital world.

Googling, blogging, friending, tagging, poking all these jargons sound gibberish to you? This is an everyday conversation between children and that is how they talk online. They are all part of the recent addition to vocabulary online. Are you baffled?  Not anymore, we will guide you parents with age-specific pointers to beat this challenge.

Kids Blog Contest The internet is one of the best inventions in the modern world, there is no doubt about it. It is a wonderful tool for children too do research, playing games, interacting with friends who live far away and keeping up breast with world news, but if not monitored properly, it can also be used for the wrong purposes knowingly or unknowingly.

Since the internet is accessible to almost everyone, anyone can view your child’s personal information and use it to harm him or her. The best way to keep them safe is to be aware and know the facts to set your worries free. How much time children spend on the computer and what are they using it for is also vital for you as a parent. Whether your child is just starting school or a teenager, it is important for both you and your kid to be aware about the dangers of posting information on the internet. Here are some tips to keep your children safe from the unknown world of the World Wide Web:

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Internet Safety Tips for Parents With Preschoolers

Contrary to the popular belief that the internet can only be misused by teenagers and young adults, it is essential to inform your child about the dangers of the web before they enter the real world. Mobile phones, tablets to laptops, internet are easily accessible at for children even at a very young age right from toddlers and preschoolers where they tend to pick up new information very quickly. If the parents start communicating with them at an early age, they would be more cautious when using the internet at a later stage. Here are some tips to prevent your toddlers and preschoolers from misusing the internet, even if by mistake:

Always Keep Supervision

  • Ensure you are with your child every time they ask for the laptop, phone or tablet to play games online.
  • Keep computers, laptops or any other device used by your child in a public area, where you can easily monitor them.
  • Visit his or her favorite websites or games regularly to keep a check on the data they are posting or showing.

Use Online Privacy Tools to the Maximum

  • Many smartphones nowadays have the option of blocking pop-up ads by simply turning it off in the settings. Otherwise, applications like AdBlock can also help in preventing pop-ups with inappropriate advertisements.
  • Keep online surfing for kids restricted to a list of websites that they could safely visit. This can be easily done by creating a list of links under ‘Bookmarks’.
  • Stick to websites that are strictly for children under the age of 5 years.
  • Lastly, talk to older siblings who can keep a check on the online activities of the younger ones when you are not around.

Keep Communicating

  • As with kid of any age, it is best to explain your child the rules of online privacy. Tell them to ask for your permission before sharing anything about them or their family online.
  • Even though children at this age are unlikely to use social networking websites, they can still play games that require online interaction with strangers. It is best to keep a check on which game they are playing and encourage them to come to you if they encounter any such thing.

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Internet Safety Tips for Parents With Children in Elementary School

The ages between 5 and 12 are the most crucial, as this is the time when children start experimenting with the internet. While they may use the web for educational purposes like researching information for a school project, it is not difficult for them to stray as well. Therefore, it is essential for parents to inform them about Internet safety before they start exploring it. Here is a safety checklist for parents with pre-teens:

Implement Strict House Rules

  • One of the best ways to ensure they do not stay up late on laptops or phones is to make their room a ‘No Technology Zone’ after dinner. This guarantees that they sleep on time and not be awake late, especially on school nights.
  • Ensure that all online activities on computers or tablets take place in the family area, where you can easily supervise what they are doing.

Manage Online Activities

  • Keep a check on all the websites your child has been visiting and encourage them to ask for help with any issues they have regarding online content.
  • In this day and age, it is impossible for children to stay without phones. If your purpose for buying them a phone is mainly for security, then give them one that has no Internet access. But for more elder children, who want smartphones, ensure that you ask the mobile operator for all the privacy settings before leaving the store.
  • For children interested in setting up an email account, encourage them to join the family email account first.
  • Most social networking websites like Facebook, Twitter etc., usually have an age limit of 13 to join them. These requirements are there to protect the children.

Build Open Communication Lines

  • One of the most effective ways to keep a check on your child is to build a trust factor with them and encouraging them to share their concerns with you.
  • Tell them to ask for permission before sharing any sort of personal information online.
  • For children who want to join social media, explain them the dos and don’ts with each platform, read them their privacy rights and also discuss what they can and cannot post or share online.
  • Reassure them that they can come to you if they face cyber bullying and vice versa.
  • Teach them about respecting other people’s privacy and not to use the internet to spread false information or rumors about someone.
  • Ensure that they have good quality anti-virus software downloaded and protect their computers from malware, especially if they download music or movies from unknown websites.

Internet Safety Tips for Parents With Teenagers

As children age into their teen years, they become less dependent on their families and turn to friends and people from outside their family for support and ideas. The Internet becomes their best friend, which they rely heavily on for interaction and communication. They adapt to new tools quickly and hence, are at a more risk for Internet hazards if unsupervised. Here is how parents can keep a check on their online activities:

Supervise their Online Activities

  • Be aware of the information your child is sharing online. Ensure they know about the privacy settings on social media websites and use it accordingly.
  • Since the internet is full of uncertainties, ensure they are not meeting anyone they met ‘online’, unless they have your permission.
  • Do not allow your child to give out personal information like credit/debit card numbers, passwords, mobile phone number or address to anyone online.
  • Warn them about the possible dangers of befriending someone they don’t know online.
  • For projects requiring online access, discuss with school teachers or librarians first about the websites safe enough for the children to use for it.

Parenting TipsTip: Monitor the time your child spends online, excessive use of online services, especially late night may signal a potential problem.

Keep Communication Lines Open With Them

  • As teenagers, they are bound to rebel against their parents for the smallest of things. Thus, parents need to build a relationship based on mutual trust with them.
  • Ensure they know that anything they post online, photo, email or their location, stays on the Internet forever. So, explain to them that they should upload those things only, which they wouldn’t mind their parent, teacher or relative seeing.
  • Be careful while using parental controls with them. Instead of protecting them, it might encourage them to take a drastic step. Discuss with them first, a friendlier approach for creating awareness would make them feel responsible.
  • Interact with them on a daily basis to see if they are facing cyber bullying or if anything is concerning them. On the other hand, explain them about respecting their friends or classmates’ privacy and opinions.

Parenting TipsParents Tip

As parents, it is important to know while the internet has its disadvantages, you cannot completely ban your child from using it. This would only encourage them to use it more. Before enlightening your children, learn up all that you can about the internet, its privacy settings and filtering software available online. If the right measures and precautions are taken, it could be the perfect ‘virtual’ environment to nurture them into educated and confident adults.