June was National Internet Safety Month but that doesn’t mean that staying safe on the internet should have been addressed only during the internet safety month. A study done by the National Cyber Security Alliance found that children between eight and eighteen years of age spend an average of seven and a half hours a day on electronic devices during the summer which gives them ample time to explore the internet, but it also puts them at risk if they haven’t been taught about the dangers and how to be safer. It’s time to address the safety of your children on the internet. Here are a few tips on how to keep your children safer while they are using the internet.
Most people, including our young children, have and use some form of social media, whether that be Snapchat, Instagram, or Facebook. It’s important to let them know about the dangers of their accepting a friend request of someone that they don’t know. Not only should they not accept friend requests from strangers, they should also never share personal information with anyone! Types of personal information may include full name, address, name of their school, or phone number. Putting information like this out there can put your children at risk. Teach them why it’s important not to put this information out there.
Next, you will want to set up filters on your children’s devices that will prevent their accessing certain types of websites. This will prevent them from putting themselves in a potentially dangerous situation. And if they want to access a website that has been blacklisted, have them come to you so that you can approve or deny their request to have access to the desired website. This process puts you in control while giving the child some semblance of independence while they are on the internet.
The Department of Homeland Security has a campaign called “Stop. Think. Connect.” which encourages people to keep an observant eye about their internet use. They also offer advice to parents for helping to keep their children safe online:
Stop: Before your children are allowed to access the internet, set clear expectations on what sites they are and are not allowed to visit.
Think: Watch for warning signs that may indicate your child is being unsafe on the internet.
Connect: You have educated your family on how to keep themselves safe, so now go ahead and enjoy the benefits of the internet with confidence.
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*Extended families – primary individual, their spouse/partner, both sets of parents (including those that have been deceased for up to a year), and all children under the age of 25