Chances are that most kids will have received some form of technological device this Christmas.
But how do you ensure that your kids stay safe online?
There’s no doubt that the internet is an amazing tool, but, unfortunately, there are hidden dangers that you should be aware of and from which kids need to be protected. The sad fact is that there are people out there who are seeking to exploit kids online.
The first thing you should do is to have regular conversations with your kids about their online security. Talk to them about the advantages of using the internet and going online, but also alert them to the dangers so that they can use it safely.
Keep a close eye on their online activities. Make a weekly routine to check their favourite websites, online games and interests to ensure that they’re not being exploited in any way.
Don’t be afraid to ask them who they’re talking to online and – maybe even more importantly – what they’re talking about. Remind them how important it is to tell a trusted adult if something happens online that makes them uncomfortable or worried.
Advise them to never:
- Accept friend requests from people they don’t know. Without panicking them, just remind them that people may not be who they say they are.
- Post anything online that they’re not happy to be shared. The problem with social media is that people often post something without really thinking about it and then have to live with the consequences.
- Put themselves in a compromising positions by, for example, removing their clothing on someone’s request. Remind them that what goes online will stay online and may be shared repeatedly.
- Use the internet to make horrible comments about another person or to bully someone. Cyber bullying is on the increase and is becoming a serious problem. If you suspect your child is being bullied, you can report online bullies or ‘trolls’ as they’re known to the individual site or app and block them.
Take the time to familiarise yourself with your child’s privacy settings. This not only applies to social networks, but to connected toys too. Spend time with your child in explaining why these settings are so important and update the privacy settings on any social media accounts they may have to ensure that only people they know can view their accounts.
Educating them about these issues – even from an early age – will make them more aware of what they need to do to protect themselves in the future.