3 Tips for Online Safety for Kids
With the internet as vast as it is, it can be a scary place for children. Keeping your child safe online should be a top priority.
The internet can bring up many questions to which your child might not be ready to hear the answer. With all the horror stories about children meeting strangers on the internet, it’s no wonder that more and more parents are nixing phones and tablets altogether.
However, total riddance of any screen time might close the door to many learning opportunities and conversations and isolate children from their peers. Either way, your child will run into the internet at one point or another, so here are three tips for keeping your child safe online—with or without you next to them.
Choose Open Communication
No matter what trouble your little one gets into, you want them to be able to tell you when something is wrong. To open this pathway of communication, you have to encourage and model talking to one another. That means taking time out of the day to chat openly, whether at dinner or on the drive home from school.
The trouble that can arise is your own reaction. If your child mentions that something upsetting has happened, it’s important not to lash out with emotion, regardless of how much you want to protect them. Strong emotional reactions may bar your child from wanting to talk with you due to the fear of how you will respond.
Use Parental Controls
Parental controls are controversial in the world of parenting. Parents want to give their children the privacy to which they’re entitled, but that privacy can also lead to dangerous situations. With the rise of smartphones, discussions as to why internet safety is so important are more frequent.
This doesn’t mean you have to entirely bar the internet to keep your child safe online.
On the contrary, monitoring their search history weekly, blocking specific apps, and turning on parental monitoring for the apps you do allow can mitigate future harm while still allowing internet access.
Teach Smart Decision-Making
The most important tip for keeping your child safe online is understanding that they’ll eventually run into trouble. Children are much brighter than we often give them credit for, and overly strict parents can lead to sneaky teenagers.
Your child needs to know why you’re asking something of them or why you’re taking something away in order to build their logical thinking processes. Telling them why giving out personal information or talking to strangers online can be dangerous is vital. This way, when they inevitably make a mistake, your child will feel like they can come to you, and they’ll be less likely to do what you told them not to do out of curiosity.
It’s important to remember that children are tiny humans, and their mistakes aren’t purposeful. In fact, for a child to follow directions blindly is antithetical to their development process. What helps them grow into intelligent adults is open, honest communication. There’s no better time than the present to start that process.