As times change, parents concerns about how to keep their children safe and unharmed change. New dangers emerge, and greater risks are posed. Where once parents were concerned about their children playing out in the street, or how spending time on video games could damage their eyesight, one of our biggest fears in the modern age is the dangers that come with our children spending time online.
It can be argued that it’s unfair to stop them using the internet, especially as they enter the teenage years. After all, it’s going to be a huge part of their lives. They use the internet and devices at school, they need it to do homework, and whatever they chose to do in later life, they are bound to be online for some of the time. So, depriving them now could be holding them back. But, how can we keep them safe? Here are some ideas to help you.
Don’t Force Them to Hide
You might be tempted to ban chat rooms or messaging apps and social media profiles. But, this might mean they try to use them anyway and hide it from you. Which means that if they do get into trouble or something is worrying them, they won’t confide in you. Obviously, what you allow depends on their age and levels of maturity, look at guidelines and used your best judgement.
Encourage them to spend their time online in family areas or with doors open. Explain that you are not checking up on them, but that they are free to be online without hiding. Ask them
what they are doing and show an interest in the games, apps, and websites they enjoy.
Set Parental Controls
Set controls on their devices and any others in the home they have access to. This is usually quite easy to do, and you can be specific with what you allow. Then, make sure they have access to a Safe Kids App and lots of age appropriate games and content to reduce the risks of them looking elsewhere.
Explain the Dangers
Again, this depends on their age and maturity. But, being honest with them and explaining the risks, in words they understand is one of the best ways to protect them. Look at a site they enjoy, then explain all the ways this site could hurt them. Talk about people they may chat to, details they share and how other people could use this against them. Then, look at how to
report issues on the sites and explain what they should do. Be as honest as you can.
You should also encourage them to ask any questions they may have about online usage and safety. If you don’t know the answers, find out. Share your own experiences or stories you’ve heard and make sure they know you are always there if they need your help.
Turn Off Location Tags
Many apps use location tags. If you take a photo, your phone remembers where that picture was taken, then when you post it online that location tag can be shared. These tags can also be shared on posts and messages. Look into the device settings and make sure location tags are turned off.
You are right to have concerns. But, with a little honesty and protection, you can keep your children safe online.