The internet can be a great resource for everyone. Using a quick Google search, you can find information on just about any subject your mind can think of. But this convenience is also a double-edged sword. Now that kids have more access than ever to the world wide web, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to keep them safe. Everything from inappropriate content to online child predators pose a constant danger.
The good news is that there are steps you can take to minimize the risk to your kids while they’re online and keep your kids safe on the world wide web.
- Monitor your child’s online activity. This can be something as simple as making them surf the web in a shared space in the house, like a living room or kitchen, where you can easily keep an eye on them. Never let them go online when they’re alone or you’re not around to supervise.
- Use website blocking software to filter inappropriate websites. There is a lot of different software on the market geared toward making the internet a safer place for kids. Most of this software will block websites deemed inappropriate for your child’s age group. You can also add websites that the software doesn’t block automatically. Also, try to get software that also gives you a browsing history of your child’s online activity so you know exactly what they’ve been doing.
- Keep them off social media. While social media websites are great to keep in touch with friends, family, and network with new people, they are not safe for kids. Child predators lurk on these social media websites and can easily victimize kids. And children posting personal information about themselves also risks real-world stalking and harassment. Also, most social media websites will not let anyone under the age of 13 create an account.
- Place a limit on how long your child can be online. No child should spend their days surfing the web. The longer they are online for, the much more likely they are to get into trouble. Place a time limit, even if it’s only ten to twenty minutes on weekdays and a little longer on weekends. Obviously, exceptions will need to be made for school assignments and other projects. If you are going to give them a lot of time online, stipulate that much of it must be spent on educational websites or watching educational/kid-oriented videos.
- Talk to your child. Communication is key and can prevent many problems from arising in the first place. Give them clear rules they must follow when online and don’t waver from those rules. Tell them that you’re looking out for their safety so they know you’re not just trying to be mean. If you’re consistent with rule enforcement and talk to your child about their online activities, you’ll find they’ll have a much better chance of staying safe.
While there is no guaranteed way to keep every child safe on the world wide web, being proactive can minimize a lot of risks. Just communicating with your child and monitoring their web browsing can keep them safe in most circumstances. As your child gets older and matures, you can slowly loosen up the rules as needed to give them more freedom. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t worry about how they’re spending their time online. Stay vigilant.