The continued growth and development of digital technology have significantly improved our ability to communicate, share information, entertain, and learn. Nowadays, most kids have easy access to the Internet through mobile phones, tablets, and gaming devices. While using the Internet is a great way for kids to learn, it also comes with many risks. Online risks are rampant these days, and they seem scary. But there are many things that parents and teachers can do to keep children safe while using the Internet.
Here are some ways to safeguard children online.
Talk to Children about the Dangers
The first step to keeping your kids protected online is to talk to them about the dangers they could face. As parents, you play an important role in imparting the right knowledge to keep your children safe from online threats. But before you start discussing Internet safety with your kids, you must first equip yourself with the necessary knowledge about the Internet, the dangers, and how to minimise your risk from these dangers. So, do your research well and make sure you rely only on reliable resources.
You should start talking to your children about Internet safety before they even begin using a tablet or mobile phone to access the Internet. Prepare them for any possible threats they could face. Get the conversation going and answer any questions they may have. It could take time to teach your kids proper internet safety habits, so have regular discussions with them about this to build a strong foundation for your child to stay safe online.
Maintaining open and honest communication is the key to establishing trust with your child. So, talk to them regularly about which websites or apps they often use and why. Understand how these websites work and always have an open mind. If you find out that your child did something inappropriate online, have an open discussion with your child. Explain why you believe what they have done is not right.
At the same time, talk to your child about what they can do to be safe when using the Internet. By keeping an open line of communication between you and your kids, they will most likely be able to easily overcome any danger they could face in the future.
Make Use of Parental Controls
Parental controls are the most effective tools for keeping your kids safe and protected online. It works like a safety net to prevent your child from accessing content that they are not supposed to see. But when it comes to implementing parental control, make sure you know how these tools work. You should also know about the risks that your child is faced with when using the Internet. Consider taking online safeguarding courses to learn more about this.
Parental controls can come in the form of apps or software with functionalities that include restricting activity, time, and content, as well as monitoring and tracking your child’s activities online. Depending on your kid’s age and maturity, certain parental controls might be more suitable than the others. While parental controls are very useful in keeping your child safe, they are just one of the measures to online protection. Despite implementing parental controls, your kids can still access and browse the Internet, interact with others through social media, and encounter risks.
Aside from implementing parental controls, parents must also be involved in their children’s digital lives. Ask how your child is doing, and then you can start asking questions about what they have done on the Internet on that day. It’s also important to keep in mind that parental control can be circumvented just like with any online tool. Your kids can do an online search for how to disable these tools, and they will be provided with so many resources.
Using parental controls may be appropriate at different stages of a child’s development, especially when parents start to teach their children self-regulation skills. It’s also worth noting that the parental controls will only work on your child’s device. It will not restrict them from viewing content from the device of their classmates or peers.
Report Online Abuse
Online abuse refers to any type of abuse on the internet facilitated by devices like tablets, computers, mobile phones, etc. It could happen anywhere and anytime online, but usually, it’s common through social networks, messaging apps, online chats, emails, comments during live streaming, and voice chat when playing games.
Kids are vulnerable to online abuse and can be victimised if the content is recorded and shared with others. This can happen whether or not the abuse took place online or offline. Some of the most common examples of online abuse are cyberbullying, emotional abuse through blackmail, sexual abuse, and sexual exploitation. Children and younger people can also be groomed online as predators use a variety of platforms to create a trusting relationship with the child, only to abuse them later on.
There are many forms of online abuse for kids. Child sexual abuse involves enticing a child to participate in sexual activity, whether the child is aware or not. This would include activities like involving kids to watch sexual activities and encouraging them to inappropriately behave. Another form of child abuse is child sexual exploitation, which occurs if an individual or group is taking advantage of their power to manipulate or coerce a child into sexual activity. Online grooming is another form of online abuse wherein some adults will develop a relationship with a child to eventually abuse or exploit them. There are many platforms that these predators can use to groom a child, such as social media, live streaming, and messaging apps.
Parents must immediately report any form of online abuse to the proper authorities. They can contact Childline online, which provides information and advice for kids and young people regarding online grooming and how to stay safe online. Children are also encouraged to make a report themselves. But if they are not yet ready to make a report, they will be given professional assistance.