The Internet has become a necessary part of everyday life. Children are starting to use computers and Internet at younger ages than ever before. Schools use computers and many parents also use them to educate children who aren’t yet old enough to go to school. Unfortunately, giving children of any age access to the Internet can pose a risk. Children often don’t have the mental capacity to understand the possible repercussions of their actions in a seemingly anonymous world. Following these tips on how to be safe on the Internet can give parents peace of mind and help protect children from danger.
People Aren’t Always What They Seem
One of the most important lessons anyone should learn, regardless of their age, is that people online aren’t always what they seem. In real life, people can conceal certain aspects of their identity, but when you see someone in person, you can often pick out the inconsistencies and make a better judgment. When individuals are hiding behind a computer screen, though, they can tell someone anything without having an easy way to be caught. For instance, an adult male who is looking for a young girl to victimize can easily tell her that he is a girl her age. Always be skeptical of people to whom you speak online.
Block Inappropriate Sites
It is a parent’s responsibility to make sure their children are only visiting safe sites online. This means you need to determine which sites are inappropriate and which ones to allow. In many cases, using the parental controls on the computer or buying a program designed for this purpose can be useful. However, it can be a delicate process of allowing the right sites and blocking those that aren’t appropriate. Changes may need to be made as your children get older.
Reduce Stranger Exposure
One of the biggest risks children encounter online is talking to other people, especially those that misrepresent themselves. Limiting the exposure your children have to these strangers can help protect them. Monitor who your children are adding to their social media sites and their private messenger lists. Encourage your children to only add people they know and trust in real life. Restrict chat sites that give them exposure to a number of individuals who can entice them into giving out too much information.
Talk about Privacy
Sometimes you can’t restrict the types of people your child can communicate with, especially if you have older children or teenagers. This is why it is important to sit down with your children and talk about their privacy. For instance, your children should know they should never give their full name, address or telephone number to anyone online. They can use their first name or a shortened version of their first name, but this is the only information they should offer. There is no reason for anyone online to know anything further. They should never talk about where they go to school, when they are going on vacation or any other information about their life. This can increase the chances of being victimized.
Reporting to the Authorities
Some of the things that go on should be reported to the proper authorities. It can be useful to teach your children what type of behavior they should look for. Make sure they feel comfortable talking to you if they notice something that seems off. If your child witnesses online bullying, for instance, he or she should be comfortable letting you know so you can take the right steps to report the individual to the website. One of the most important tips on how to be safe on the Internet is to teach your child to be suspicious of anyone that presses for information, especially after he or she refuses. This type of behavior should be reported to the site and also to the authorities if the behavior continues.
It can feel like an invasion of privacy to watch everything your child is doing online. As a parent, it is your responsibility to pay attention to what your children are doing online. Keep the computer in an open area of the home, such as the living room or kitchen, so you can always see what is happening on the screen. Check the computer history and make sure your child gives you all his or her passwords. Log-in often so you always know what your child is doing online. Being involved will help keep them safe.
Keeping your children safe online can be one of the most difficult things you can do. These tips on how to be safe on the Internet are just part of keeping your children protected. There are many ways in which you can help your children see the potential dangers and teach them how to avoid falling prey to the many dangers that lurk online.