*This is a collaborative guest post
The internet is the ideal space for kids to enhance their learning, as well as stay in touch with their pals. And while it offers countless opportunities, it comes with its fair share of risks, too.
As parents, it’s on us to teach our children about the basics of cyber safety to ensure they are getting the best out of the web without putting themselves in danger.
But if you’re not sure where to begin–and don’t want to scare them into not using the internet at all–we’ll guide you through the essential steps to keep them safe online at all times.
- Privacy Matters
Encourage them to use pseudonyms or nicknames when creating profiles on websites, apps, and social media platforms, and explain the importance of never sharing personal information like their full name, address, phone number, or school online.
Don’t forget to teach your kids to be cautious about sharing photos and videos, too, especially if they include identifiable information.
- Instead of just setting rules, why not explain to your children why it’s crucial not to share personal information online? This will help them understand the potential risks and consequences in a more productive way.
- Engage in role-playing scenarios, where they can practice what to do if someone online asks for personal information.
- Teach them how to manage their privacy settings on social media platforms and apps to control who can see their posts and info.
- Encourage them to be vocal about their online experiences with you, especially if they make new online friends.
- Stranger Danger
Stranger danger is just as important as it is in real life, so teach them not to accept friend requests or engage with unknown profiles and discuss the importance of verifying the identity of online friends and acquaintances.
Also, teach them how to identify user red flags and set boundaries on the amount of time your child spends online and the platforms they use.
If you maintain an open and ongoing dialogue about internet safety, you can help ensure your child’s online interactions are as secure as possible.
- Online Etiquette
Be open and encouraging about the importance of respectful and kind online behavior and remind them that words have consequences, even on the internet.
Research shows that 47.7% of parents with children ages 6-10 reported their kids were bullied online, so teach them about cyberbullying and how to report any incidents. Encourage empathy and understanding for others in online interactions.
- Password Protection
Did you know that a whopping 80% of hacking incidents occur due to stolen and reused login information? This is a huge threat to any web user, so make sure you teach your kids how to create strong, unique passwords for each online account and the importance of keeping them secret.
Also, drum in the importance of regularly changing passwords and not sharing them with anyone, even close friends.
Be clear about the consequences of weak passwords, and encourage them to always use a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols when creating a new password.
Online Safety Tools
Enhance your child’s online safety with these essential tools:
- Parental Control Software: Invest in reputable parental control software to monitor and manage your child’s online activity, set screen time limits, and block inappropriate content.
- Educational Apps: Choose educational apps and websites that are safe and age-appropriate. Look for platforms that offer interactive learning experiences.
- VPNs (Virtual Private Networks): You can enhance your child’s online privacy and security by encrypting internet traffic if you buy VPN and teach them how to use it, especially when connecting to public Wi-Fi.
- Regular Check-Ins: Keep the lines of communication open with your children. Regularly discuss their online experiences, answer questions, and address any concerns.
The internet is a blessing and a curse–particularly for our children, who aren’t as equipped as we are at identifying potential dangers.
As our children’s protectors, it’s up to us to regularly and briefly explain the importance of cybersecurity and not fall into the traps that may put them at risk from predators.
By educating them using the above guide, they can continue exploring the wonders of the web without putting themselves in danger.