The world we live in is shrinking as we speak. With the advancement in technology, new communication methods are devised that have made it so easy for us to connect and interact with just about anyone, even if they are sitting thousands of miles away from us.
The digital world which has brought us closer has also posed a threat to our kids. Don’t get me wrong here as I am truly an advocator of raising tech-savvy kids. However, too much of everything is harmful. Hence, we need to be extra cautious and ensure internet safety for kids as they are embracing the new ways of connecting and interacting.
Social media for instance is a brilliant way to find your pals and stay connected with them. These sites allow us to communicate with our friends, meet up with new people having similar interests, and share images and videos. But some people can take undue advantage of this.
Today we’ll have a look at the importance of internet safety for kids and how to safeguard them from major internet threats.
Why is Internet Safety for Kids required?
1. Internet Safety For Kids from Unwelcomed Online Predators
When your kids get on to the internet world they must learn to protect themselves from online predators. These are people who brainwash the children’s minds and make them believe that they care for them more than their guardians. Mostly they lure the kids to exploit them sexually. They are also known to harm these young kids emotionally, mentally, and physically.
The victims are always living with the feeling of guilt and are not able to open up with their parents to discuss this. Most online predators target young kids anywhere from 3 years to 17 years and roughly 74% of the child victims are innocent young girls.
2. Internet Safety For Kids from consuming Inappropriate content
Multiple types of content can be grouped under this category. Content that uses vulgar language, or is violent, contains sexual images or videos, even some kind of hate speech falls in the realm of inappropriate content.
It is estimated that as much as 60% of the total internet using kids from 8 to 12 years were impacted by some form of inappropriate content in 2018 and the numbers are only growing.
3. Internet Safety for Kids from Cyber Bullying
Cyberbullying refers to any kind of threatening, teasing, or ill practices that are performed to hurt someone and tarnish their online image. Usually, the victims are under the age of 12 to 17 years.
What’s important to know is that the person who bullies is usually in the same age bracket too.
Cyberbullying is a growing monster and as much as 34% of kids are estimated to be victims of such crimes. The cyberbullies intend to cause harm to the victim’s social life and their mental well-being. Some examples of cyberbullying are –
- posting the victim’s morphed and edited photos on the internet which can cause deep embarrassment to the victim.
- identity theft i.e. hijacking someon’s personal information and using it to send dirty messages or float their images etc.
- trolling the victim and sending harmful and threatening messages on social media.
4. Internet Safety for kids from harmful malwares
Another form of internet hazard is spreading harmful scripts, viruses, malware, trojans, etc. Some hackers also send ransomware and threaten the kids to spread their personal data if they fail to pay them money.
How to ensure Internet Safety for Kids from these 4 threats
Protecting your kids from Online Predators – internet safety for kids
- Before allowing them to open websites and surf the net, set some definite rules. Ensure your kids are only chatting with their friends. Talking to or accepting friend requests of any unknown person is a strict no.
- Also, you must create their social accounts yourself and by default you should be the first person in their friendlist to keep a check on their activities
- I will also suggest that if its possible, you must know all the passwords till the time they are 18. Once they are above 18 years of age, you can handover all their accounts without being closely involved. This may seem a little difficult for most but trust me it will only help.
- Talk to you kids everyday. If you notice sudden abrupt behaviors in your child such as staying on internet for really long hours, disconnecting with real friends, indifferent behavior towards parents etc. then this could be a warning sign. This certainly calls for some open discussions.
Protecting Kids from consuming unsuitable content – internet safety for kids
- You must setup a firewall which can block all the websites that are not appropriate and safe for your kid.
- Let your kids understand the good and bad sites. If they accidently happen to pounce on something related to violance, they should report to you so that you can block such sites too.
- Dont freak out if you find your child is exposed to some kind of inappropriate graphical content. Work on a proper response and help your kid to manage their feelings.
Protecting Kids from cyber bullying – internet safety for kids
- Having yourself added to the frindlist of your kids social media profile will help you smell any bullying much faster.
- If you find out that your child is being bullied online, then immediaely block the abuser, unfriend and report.
- Also, its absolutely needed to report such instances. This would make your kids feel your support and warmth. Also, the abuser may not dare to do such acts ever again with another innocent victims.
- Be more vocal and gauge your child’s emotional and mental condition and always be available to extend your moral support.
Protecting kids from harmful malwares – internet safety for kids
- Educate your kids to access only the websites which are secure. To identify this, they can check for the prefix ‘https’ or a lock padlock in the web browser, just before the name of the website
- Ask your kids to not open any fishy emails from unknown senders.
- Keep your system protected with a decent antivirus.
- Have parental controls on the system
- Keep your system updated with the latest versions of the installed softwares.
Other useful tips to ensure Internet safety for kids
1. Keep all the screens and devices at visible locations – internet safety for kids
It is advisable to place the computer in a central location in the house. This is important as you can easily monitor what your youngster is doing and viewing online. You can also ask your child to use the iPads, Laptops in common living rooms.
If you are overly protective, you can set your devices to forget your Wi-Fi passwords so that your children can’t surf online without your knowledge.
2. Discuss your child’s internet activities with them freely – internet safety for kids
As your child begins to use the internet, talk to them about what they’re learning, viewing, and who do they talk to when they are online. It’s good to have these conversations even as they get older.
Check with them to know about the websites or apps they use. It’s also crucial to teach kids about their online identity and how they should behave, engage with others. You can educate them on how they should represent themselves on public platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat, and many others.
3. Know how to use Social Media safety features – internet safety for kids
Most social media platforms have advanced security features that are highly essential to understand. This is a must if you want to avoid your kid from getting into any kind of trouble. I would recommend you to first understand these features by yourself and then educate your child so that they don’t fall prey to trouble makers.
Learn how to use the security settings and warning options on the social networks and apps your children use.
If your child uses social media platforms, make sure they know how to do the following:
1. Reporting any posts that are improper or offensive.
2. Keeping information secret by blocking someone.
4. Serve as a Role Model – internet safety for kids
Your kids are more likely to follow in your footsteps. So, demonstrate the kind of positive online behavior you want them to practice. This may also mean limiting your screen time too when you are home with your kids.
If it’s possible you must encourage a screen-free day in your house to let your child engage in other activities.
A few words from CityMom
Social media, the internet, and technological advancements are a part of our lives are here to stay. We cannot hold our kids from using them. But we can certainly educate our kids about the potential threats on the internet space. Only if they are well informed, they can avoid being a victim to these dangers.
Follow these guidelines to ensure internet safety for kids from the prevailing internet threats so that they stay safe and protected.
Besides ensuring online safety for your kids, it’s equally important to indulge them in other activities. Here are some benefits of physical activities for kids that help in their overall physical and mental development.