Back when we were kids, the most trouble we got into was a scolding for climbing a neighbor’s tree. We know now that it was dangerous. But who would have thought that kids would someday face dangers in their own homes, a place where they should be protected? That’s the reality today.
It’s scary to think about online threats. But, 95% of teens have access to a smartphone and 45% say they are online ‘almost constantly’. So, we can’t simply bury our heads in the sand on this one. As parents, it’s our responsibility to protect our children and educate them in good online behaviors.
Watch Out for Online Bullies
From snarky comments on social media to full-on trolling, most kids experience some form of cyberbullying at some point nowadays. Take a preemptive approach and let your child know that they can talk to you about anything they experience online. Encourage them to share with you by letting them know that they won’t lose their online privileges if they report online bullies to you. Keep an eye on their social networks where possible, so that you can spot bullying behavior. Furthermore, look out for changes in their personality and habits offline as it may indicate that something is wrong.
Beware of Predators
It’s difficult to imagine that your child might be targeted by a malicious individual. But, unfortunately, there are threats out there that you need to shield your child against. The recent “MoMo Challenge” and its repercussions are just one example of such.
The first step towards protecting your kid is to warn them not to share any personal information with strangers or in public chats under any circumstances. You may want to add an extra layer of security and install an encryption tool on your devices. This way your kids can browse anonymously and the risk of a cybercriminal gaining access to private information is greatly reduced.
Help Kids to Spot Ads
It’s sometimes hard for kids to distinguish an ad from regular content. Some free apps are riddled with ads and pop-ups. Teach younger children how to recognize them by using apps or playing games with them. You can point out exactly the kind of thing they are not to tap on. Explain that tapping on such may result in you spending real money or accidentally downloading viruses that damage their beloved devices.
Use Parental Controls
Parental controls prevent children from accessing inappropriate content. You can switch them on within the settings of most apps and devices. For example, YouTube is hugely popular with kids these days. We might not be able to understand it as parents but, for some reason, they just can’t get enough of watching other people play video games… Anyway, you can switch on “Restricted Mode” within your YouTube account, which screens for and blocks mature content.
Unplug from Time to Time
You can’t ban technology altogether. As we all know, if you take something away or make it dangerous and exciting, your kids will want it more. However, it’s important to have some good old-fashioned fun with the family. Did you know that, on average, we spend 24 hours per week on the web? So, have everybody switch off their devices and get active from time to time. Because, at the end of the day, one way to keep kids safe is to ensure that they aren’t spending all of their time on a tablet or phone.
Now it’s over to you. If you put these safety measures in place and allow your kids to talk openly about their gaming and browsing activities, they are less likely to run into any dangers.