Here’s how to keep your kids safe online

Today, kids and the internet go hand-in-hand, but there are real dangers online that parents should be aware of to keep your kids safe on the World Wide Web…

Keeping your child safe online can be a daunting task, but somebody’s got to do it. You teach your kids about physical dangers but what about the digital world? For many parents, figuring out where to start is the biggest hurdle, so we’ve compiled a list of tips to help you get going in the right direction. 

Share selectively 

Your child’s first imprint online will likely come from you so be careful what you share. From birth announcements to milestones at school, you can drop a lifetime of personal information about your child before they can even post for themselves. Share personal details sparingly to preserve their privacy and avoid identity theft. 

On the other hand, those cute kiddie moments might be perfectly harmless to you but completely embarrassing for your child years down the road. Remember that what you post leaves a permanent trail and your child will likely have an opinion about those things later on, so before you post a seemingly hilarious tantrum or that funny photo, think twice. 

Use parental controls

There are tools that let you control your kids’ access to adult material and help protect them from internet predators. Many internet service providers (ISPs) provide parent-control options, so check with yours to find out what they can offer. You can also buy software such as Norton Family Premier, which helps block access to sites, restricts personal information from being sent online and monitors and tracks online activity.

Get involved

Teaching your little ones how to be good digital citizens is just as important as blocking objectionable material. Set ground rules for internet use and keep your eyes and ears open to make sure the rules are followed. Make it your business to know what your child is doing online by keeping devices in a common area of the home, spending time together online and taking it seriously if your child reports incidents of abuse on the internet. 

As they get older, it can be tricky managing their time online but you must stay vigilant. Speak to your teens about the importance of keeping passwords and login credentials private and encourage them to avoid interacting with strangers online. 

Adhere to age restrictions

Most social media platforms have age restrictions, but did you know there’s really no robust age verification process? That’s where you come in. Allowing your child to have social media accounts before the recommended age could open the door to problems. Before allowing your child to interact on these platforms, make sure they are mature and old enough to engage responsibly. While age restrictions vary across platforms, children must be at least 13 years old to have an account on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter. 

Know the lingo

You’ve been warned about the dangers that lurk on the internet but do you know what they are? Here’s a primer on some of the World Wide Web’s most common pitfalls for kids. 

Malware is software that is specifically designed to disrupt, damage or gain unauthorised access to a computer system. This software is usually downloaded onto a device by mistake and can be maddening to undo once it’s done. 

Phishing is the fraudulent practice of sending emails pretending to be from reputable companies in order to trick people into revealing personal information such as passwords or credit card numbers. 

Cyberbullying is the use of electronic communication to bully a person, typically by sending messages of an intimidating or threatening nature, while cyberstalking is the use of electronic communication to harass or frighten someone. 

By Tamara Clarke

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