HOW SHOULD PARENTS ENSURE THE SAFETY OF THEIR CHILDREN ONLINE
- Dr. Sharmila
For parents, keeping kids out of trouble is a never ending struggle.
School-age children are starting to be independent online and might go online unsupervised there are more internet safety risks for them than there are for younger children. There are particular risks if your child uses the internet to communicate with others – for example, on social media or within games.
When you take some practical internet safety precautions, you protect your child from potentially harmful or inappropriate content and activities. And your child gets to make the most of their online experience, with its potential for learning, exploring, being creative and connecting with others.
Here are some reasons why monitoring your young child’s internet activity is important-
- Inappropriate Content
- Protect their reputation
- Protect your personal information
Here are some tips to ensure a safe online experience-
- Create a family media plan. It’s best to create your plan with your child and ask them for suggestions. Your plan could cover things like screen-free areas in your house, internet safety rules like not giving out personal information, and programs and apps that are OK for your child to use.
- Use child-friendly search engines like Kiddle or Kidtopia, or content providers like ABC Kids, CBeebies, YouTube Kids and KIDOZ, or messaging apps like Messenger Kids.
- Check that games, websites and TV programs are appropriate for your child.
- Use the internet with your child or make sure you’re close by and aware of what your child is doing online. This way you can act quickly and reassure your child if they’re concerned or upset by something they’ve seen online.
- Check privacy settings and location services, use parental controls, and use safe search settings on browsers, apps, search engines and YouTube. Limit camera and video functions so your child doesn’t accidentally take photos of themselves or others
There’s a common and smart saying called it’s better to be safe than sorry. I think this majorly applies towards young kids and their usage of the internet, the truth is- the internet is a vast space where there are good things and not so good things that happen simultaneously. It’s unfortunately also like a rabbit hole that you can go inside, only catch being- you don’t know if you’re going down the right one or the wrong one.
I remember the first time I got an Instagram account for myself and regretted it instantly. Since I was pretty young and didn’t know how to create a private account, one day, a troll started following me and began to comment these nasty things on my posts. Seeing this for the first time, I was in tears and ran to my mother. Once I told her what had happened, she calmly sat me down and consoled me before teaching me how to protect myself on the internet.
It helps keep your child safe online. Calm, open conversations about internet use can help your child feel that you trust them to be responsible online. And if your child feels trusted, they’re more likely to talk with you about what they do online and tell you about online content and contacts that worry them.