As summer comes to an end and we start to prepare our children for the beginning of the new school year, we should start to reassess the ways we keep our children safe online. Keeping your children safe online begins with educating yourself on the dangers and teaching your children how critical it is to say safe. Remember, most children have similar characteristics that might pose as challenges when trying to keep them safe: innocence, a desire for independence, curiosity, and fear of punishment. Here are a few things you can do to help your child stay safe on his or her devices.
A sure way to maintain a watchful eye on your child is to keep their computer in a public area, when they are using it, like in the kitchen. Although it may not be wise to hover, keeping the computer and other internet connected devices that they use in your plain view might be a way to protect your child from accessing a site they probably shouldn’t.
Next, set rules and boundaries on your devices that have internet access. The most effective way to ensure safe online behavior is to teach your children about the dangers of certain activities and the reasoning behind the rules you’ve set. Children don’t want to be told not to do something, but they still need to understand why it would be a poor decision for them to do certain things. A few topics of limitation might include: disallowing online chatrooms because they are filled with people that may pose as a different person or try to lure them in, limiting purchases you will do for them online, what programs your child can use on the computer, and downloading privileges.
Some of the boundaries that must be established should be coupled with setting parental controls on their devices. We all know that when you tell a child that they can’t do something, they will go ahead and do it to learn for themselves. Sometimes it can be too risky to trust that they will not experiment with the boundaries. We recommend setting stronger parental controls for younger children and as they get older, earn trust, and learn about the dangers online, parental controls can be lessened.
Last, we all make mistakes… Make sure your child can come to you if they feel like they did something wrong. Children fear punishment, so it’s essential for you to let them know that they did the right thing by coming to you and that we all make mistakes. If you keep communication with your child open like this, problems with devices and internet access can be caught early.
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