Teaching Your Kids to be Safe Online – 10 Tips to Get Started

We usually teach our children road safety, beach safety and how to dress during winter, but do we pay attention to Internet safety? For me, the online space is like an amusement park, where there are all these beautiful machines to ride, but you must follow the safety precautions if you want to come from the other end in one piece.

There is no way to keep your kids off the Internet space, especially now that Wi-fi is a norm. While the Internet offers several opportunities to socialize, to learn and to create, it is also a breeding place for so much evil doing. Here are some tips that parents can follow when teaching their children online safety.

Learn as much as you can

Familiarising with the Internet will not only keep you abreast with the trends, but it will also help you identify the potential risks that your little ones are exposed to. That way, you will be in an excellent position to advise your children.

Start the discussion early

One of the crucial steps to take is to start teaching your children about online safety at a tender age. Begin mentoring your children the moment they are exposed to the Internet. You never know when they will come across a risk without your knowledge. At first, allow your little one to use the computer with you so that you can guide him or her. When the child gets older, they might wish to do things independently. So, train your kid on how to set passwords and tell them which sites they should keep off.

Set limits with explanations, limiting the amount of time your child spends online and the sites they visit will go a long way in ensuring their safety and is best for your family. Take time to build up a list of the websites they should visit and explain why these sites are okay and why they should not go to the other sites you warned them against.

Take the lead

Remember that children often do what they see rather than what you tell them. Therefore, what you do contributes significantly to your child’s online safety. When kids see their parents and guardians putting measures to prevent rogue downloads, they are likely to follow suit. Regardless of your child’s age, take the initiative of practising safe Internet use and they will be happy to join you.

Be open

Young kids may lack the capacity of grasping certain concepts before their brains develop fully. In such a case, tell him or her that you will explain the idea when they are older. However, when you can explain about an online danger, do not hold back the information. Explain what the risk is and how to avoid it. As long as a child can understand something, never wait for them to ask, but instead, let them know right away.

Make the conversations frequent

Considering the rate at which technology is evolving, you should not allow a chance of bringing clarity pass. Use every opportunity well because the more you talk about something, the more it will stick. Habits take time to form, and repetition shortens the required period. Thankfully, you will not have to force experiences because they will often present themselves.

Exercise creativity

What would you answer if your seven-year-old asked what a computer virus is? One approach would be to tell them that it is like a flu virus which makes them sick and that their phones can get “sick” too. Whichever analogy you choose, make sure that your little one can connect with it. When explaining how cybercrime happens yet, it is a virtual space; you can demonstrate that cybercriminals are like people who dress up for Halloween and then they do naughty things.

Teach them an exit strategy

What should your child do when they are confronted by a seemingly risky situation online? He or she should have a plan. For instance, you can tell them to block social media strangers who ask a lot of questions. Learning how to identify dangers online is a vital aspect of ensuring the safety of your little one.

Use safety features

This is more of a caution to take more than a lesson. However, it is paramount since you do not know what might pop up when your little one is online. Luckily, there are a bunch of online safety tools that parents and guardians can use. Search for “parental controls”, and you will have endless options at your disposal.

Draft an online safety contract

When your child is old enough, you can choose to have a formal agreement with him or her. Start by making rules that will guide how you interact online and define your expectations. Read the rules and have your little one sign the document. The contract can act as a constant reminder that holds them accountable to the agreement you have. The idea is to put them in charge of their online safety.

Daddy, “What is cyberbullying?” Mommy, “What is the Internet?” Armed with this guideline on how to teach your children about online safety, you will have a relatively more comfortable time answering such questions. Do not be part of the 37 percent of parents who leave their children to figure out the whole Internet thing on their own. Step up and see to it that your kid’s innocence is not taken away by the Internet.

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