Each generation of parents has something different to worry about — something that has changed since they were young. You might have had internet access when you were a teenager. It might have been an invaluable source when it came to tackling big homework projects, and you might have even made friends in the odd teen-friendly chat room. But, times have changed, and most of us look back glad that social media wasn’t a big deal when we were younger.
You might have had a Facebook page. But, the internet wasn’t like it is now. Nowadays, it’s a massive part of everyday lives. We’ve all heard horror stories about children and teenagers being bullied online and about the darker parts of the internet we’re all keen to avoid. As a parent today, the internet is one of our biggest concerns as our children grow. Even very young children have tablets and some level of internet access, which only grows as they do. Let’s take a look at some tips to help you to keep your family safe online.
Remember, it’s better that your children learn about the internet with you, instead of picking up bits and bobs here and there. When they are young, and first getting online, do it together. Show them some websites and apps that you think they’d enjoy and give them a little freedom to explore with you.
Put Safety Measures in Place
However much you trust your children, it’s never a good idea to let them out on the web alone without putting any safety measures in place. Set parental controls on younger children’s devices. Turn off in-app chat and location settings and use your own app to monitor their usage, these are inexpensive and widely available. For older kids, you might want to speak to them about setting their own safety and explain the importance of keeping some things private and hidden.
Talk About the Risks
You won’t want to tell very young children the worst horror stories out there. But, you can explain to slightly older children that the internet can be dangerous. You can tell them about people trying to contact them online and explain some of the risks. Tell them what they need to watch out for, and teach them how to report any suspicious activity.
Don’t Be Too Critical
If you are too critical, or too overprotective, it will become a secret. They’ll start to hide their internet usage from you. They’ll spend their time online behind closed doors. They won’t want to speak to you about it, and they won’t be comfortable coming to you if they are worried. Remember, children are curious, and that’s fine. Try to be understanding and supportive, even if you are worried or don’t approve.
Encourage them to Trust Their Instincts
Instinct is essential when it comes to safety. If someone started talking to you online, you’d get a feel for the situation straight away, and it’s essential that your children learn to do the same.
Chat With Them
Take an interest in their usage. Ask about games they play and the sites they use. Let them tell you about the things that they enjoy, and take an active interest, even if it means you have to listen to too many Minecraft tales. It’ll help to keep your relationship open and honest.