In this digital era, using the internet is necessary, especially since many schools had to move their operations online. Kids must go online, but are they truly well prepared to face all the potential dangers and react appropriately? Let’s take a look at what’s lurking and easy internet safety tips you can teach your kids.
What Are the Biggest Online Dangers to Kids?
Kids can often experience cyberbullying – especially on social media. Often, they will get cyberbullied by the kids they know, which can cause huge amounts of stress since the kid may feel like they don’t have a safe space to escape.
The internet is full of things that are inappropriate for kids. It does include explicit imagery, but doesn’t end there – there is a lot of material that could be damaging. Parental control software may be of help here, especially in cases where the child is very young.
Cybercriminals don’t discriminate based on age. Getting your device infected with malware can be as easy as clicking a bad link. Therefore kids must know to avoid such things.
Although this one may be more relevant to teenager online security, there’s no denying that the internet is full of creeps that should have zero contact with children. They may lurk in public forums, social media, and other online spaces your kid may want to visit.
Posting stuff that may come back to haunt them later
The internet is forever. However, a kid or even a teen making a post is probably not thinking about that. It’s important to teach them about consequences or who could use their videos or photos against them in the future.
How Can You Keep Your Kids Safe Online?
There are many ways you can keep your kids safe online:
Communicate openly and clearly
This is by far the most important thing you can do: have a conversation about internet safety with your kid. Even young kids should be kept in the loop about both the good and the bad things about being online. Let your kid know that they won’t get in trouble if they ask you about something bad they saw online – this way, you can protect them instead of making them afraid to come to you.
Install parental controls
Parental control software is a good idea for younger kids. Ensure that the software you install has a good reputation and see how it works by using it yourself for a while. However, this may have the opposite effect you’d like if your kid is already a teenager. They may resent it and continuously find new ways to circumvent it. In such cases, communication remains your most important safety tip.
Make use of security software & updates
Make sure all of your child’s devices are kept up to date and have antivirus software installed. Put a firewall on computers, both yours and theirs. Your kid may be able to handle at least some of these security aspects depending on their age. Plus, it can become a great way to make your kid care about their online security themselves.
Get a VPN for the whole family
This can be a great way to improve your whole family’s digital security in one go. To protect everyone, you can set it up on a router, or get a subscription that covers unlimited devices per each account – like Surfshark VPN. It helps maintain privacy, plus, it offers a CleanWeb feature which blocks malware and phishing attempts. And that’s just a few of its many features!
Be approachable to your kids
You are the one who should start the discussion about internet safety by sharing stories, asking questions, and keeping up with new online trends. Be curious – your kids are, too, and it will be easier for them to come to you if you show genuine, open interest.
Get your kid involved in their protection
It can be as simple as going through the settings of their social media account together and explaining why it’s essential to take care of their privacy. When you give them their first smartphone or tablet, go through the setup process with them, and explain what they should allow and what they should not. The more your kid knows, the easier it will be to keep them safe online.
Top 10 Internet Safety Tips to Teach your Kid
Internet safety for kids doesn’t have to be complicated. Here’s a few things you can teach your child that are easy and helpful!
- Respect age limits on sites and don’t try to circumvent them
- Teach them about avoiding fishy or scammy looking sites
- Be careful about talking to strangers online
- Encourage children who are in chat rooms to use a username or handle rather than their real name.
- Give them tips on identifying fake or scam profiles, such as a lack of other friends.
- Make sure they know that even clicking a link can sometimes be dangerous
- Talk to them about apps they are not allowed to download and why
- Explain that they can always block somebody on social media who is annoying or getting to them.
- Ensure they know never to arrange to meet with someone they met online or give somebody they only know online the means to track their movement
- Ensure that kids never send compromising or nude photos of themselves to anyone
Explaining internet safety to your kids may seem like a daunting subject, especially if you don’t feel tech-savvy yourself. However, it can become a great learning opportunity. The Internet is full of resources for all levels of cybersec education, and privacy protection tools are becoming easy to use rather than intimidating.
Not sure which internet safety topic you should tackle first? We recommend starting with what is malware and how to prevent it.