The world is more technologically advanced and connected than ever before, thanks to the increasing accessibility of computers and smart devices. As all parents and educators know, access to the internet can be both positive and negative for children.
Internet access can give kids opportunities to develop new skills and explore nearly any interest or passion they might have, but it can also introduce them to inappropriate content, viruses, scammers and other malicious individuals.
To keep kids safe online, try the simple tips below:
1. Set Guidelines
Before kids engage in any kind of online activity, from playing their favorite video games to interacting with their friends on social media, it’s crucial that they know the importance of online safety and understand clear guidelines and expectations when it comes to their online interactions. Remind them to always reach out to you when they have questions or concerns, or if they find themselves in a situation that does not feel right to them.
2. Keep Personal Information Private
Only when given permission or specifically instructed by a parent or educator should a child share any type of personal information while online. Even though a website or individual might ask them to reveal personal information like their name, telephone number, passwords, home address or school name, this does not mean they should provide it.
3. Use Parental Controls
One effective way to provide a baseline level of online protection is to enable parental control protections as a part of the internet browser or smart device a child uses to go online. These built-in capabilities filter out inappropriate content so that children are not exposed to harmful material. Often, these free systems give parents the ability to set time-specific limits as to how long their child can access the internet.
4. Encourage Thoughtful Communication
Remind children that it is equally important to act respectfully online as it is offline. Because information can spread so quickly on the internet, children should be particularly careful not to express themselves in inappropriate ways. A blog post published by Google detailing the fundamentals of internet safety suggests that users treat online communication just like face-to-face communication, and remember that “if it isn’t right to say, it isn’t right to post.”
5. Practice Healthy Skepticism
While there exists a great deal of helpful and informative information online, it’s crucial for children to understand that not everything they come across online is always accurate. There are even some websites that will actively try to scam or hack unsuspecting users. Help kids learn more about the different ways scammers con unsuspecting users and remind them to always have a healthy degree of skepticism when it comes to their online interactions.
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