Internet safety for kids is Internet safety for the whole family. Protect the ones you love from the perils of cyberspace.It's a story many parents can relate to and all parents fear: stumbling upon a child's browsing history or mobile phone record and discovering their children have been accessing inappropriate sites. How could this happen? You've taught them better than that, right? But kids will be kids, and curiosity often gets the best of them. Now more than ever, Internet safety for kids is a critical thing for parents to understand and practice.
What's appropriate and what isn't?
A question every parent has to answer is what types of web content are suitable for my children? Should they be allowed to access music sites, games, television shows, or other entertainment sites? Or should access be strictly limited to educational sites? And what about social media? Where's the line between Internet safety for kids and just being an overprotective parent?
There's no right answer to these questions (though there are probably a few wrong ones), which makes it difficult to make a decision. It's best to start with the educational sites and go from there. You can probably deny access to most entertainment sites without feeling too guilty, especially because you can watch programs or play games with your child on those sites and control what they see and don't see.
As for social media, that's an evolving phenomenon. When in doubt, play it safe. Restrict social media usage until your children are old enough to know how to use it responsibly. And of course, sites with adult themes or violent content should always be prohibited from children.
Probably more worrisome than some of the content they access is the threat of criminals using children to acquire sensitive information. Child identity theft remains a critical problem in today's world, and children are often taken advantage of in cyberspace for this purpose.
A huge component of Internet safety for kids is to teach them to never give out any personal information. This includes addresses, phone numbers, where they go to school, when your family is going on vacation—everything, really. If a friend, teacher, parent, or relative needs information about your child, they can call you on the phone and obtain it that way.
All web browsers and mobile devices have ways to block inappropriate content so your children can't access it when you're not around. Become familiar with these features, usually accessible in the "settings" sections of browsers and devices. If you need help, ask someone who knows or Google the information—most blocking directions are available on the Internet.
As your children get older, they'll no doubt see this as an invasion of privacy, but while they're younger, it's a good idea to stay on top of what content they access. You might also want to put the family computer in a high-traffic area so they'll be less tempted to access inappropriate or dangerous sites. Unless their school requires it, you might consider waiting until they're older to get their own computers or mobile devices.
Be age appropriate
You'll probably want to stay on top of your child's Internet use through his or her teenage years, but Internet safety for kids is not the same as Internet safety for teenagers. As your children get older, the restrictions on the Internet should decrease so that they can practice responsibility on their own. What that looks like is ultimately up to you, but if your child is old enough to drive a car, he or she is probably old enough to have more freedom on the Internet. What that includes, you'll have to decide.
Most importantly, teach your children what Internet safety for kids means and how they can practice it. The more they understand, the more likely they are to adhere to your rules. Of course, no child is perfect, but if you make Internet safety a family affair, you'll all be able to weather mistakes—and hopefully celebrate victories—together.
Have your children accidentally given out vital information on the Internet? Call us to ensure you have a way to protect your whole family from identity thieves.
What rules do you have to keep your children safe while they're browsing? Share your stories in the comment section.