The Internet can be a confusing and dangerous place. Without a safety net, many people can fall into the danger zones of pornography, predators, online scams, Internet viruses, and spyware. With such free access to the Internet around the world, many have abused it as an opportunity to take advantage of others.
But, there’s no reason to fear the Internet. When used properly, with the right precautions and the right information; the Internet educates, positively influences, and provides a creative outlet for today’s kids.
It can be scary for anyone to send a child out to roam the internet freely. There are ways to ensure that your child stays safe while surfing the web.
There are softwares you can install onto your computer that censors certain things from your child. Cyber safety for kids doesn’t just stop there. You should also teach your child about dangerous situations. This can help prevent cyber bullying and online predation.
What is cyber bullying?
Cyber bullying includes sending any mean, threatening, or hurtful messages or images; posting sensitive content about someone; pretending to be someone else to hurt them or make them look bad; intentionally excluding someone from an online group; etc. These actions are as hurtful as physical violence and should not be tolerated. The more time a child spends online, the more likely they will become a victim of cyber bullying. Types of technology include e-mail, chat rooms, instant messaging, text messaging, webpages, etc
How Can I protect my child from Cyber Bullying?
Unfortunately, cyber bullying has become a big issue today. Cyber bullying takes place in many places like social media sites or chat rooms. It’s important to keep an open relationship with your child so in the instance of them being cyber bullied they feel comfortable coming to you.
- Talk with you child every day and listen to them
- Keep track of your child’s mood swings
- Join the sites your child is apart of and be “friends” with them and “follow” them
- Educate your child on cyber bullying
- If you suspect something is going on investigate it
- Ask teachers, principals, and law officials for help
Protecting The kids –How to-
1. Social Media safety
Social media sites are something to discuss with your child. Teach them, not to add people on Facebook that they don’t know in person. Teach them to use that platform to keep in contact with friends and family they don’t see often.
Something you should know as a parent is the age restriction to have an account on social media sites. For example, Twitter and Facebook users must be at least 13 years old. There is no way to prove you are 13 years old so your 11 year old could obtain an account simply by changing their birth year by a couple years. Play an active part in your child’s social media accounts by knowing which ones they are on and what they do on them.
Sites like Twitter and Facebook have privacy settings that allow your information to be shared with everyone or only your “followers” and “friends”. For Twitter you can approve who follows you by changing your private settings. If your child has a Twitter account I suggest they approve and disapprove each of their followers individually. Most kids use Twitter to interact with friends while adults use it to share links with others and discuss trending topics. Also, let your child know that just because there is a spot for you to enter your phone number or location doesn’t mean you need or should put that information in there. The same goes for other social media sites. Remind your child that anything they post online is there permanently. Any status updates or posts can be accessed in a few clicks.
2. Install software
Installing restrictive software can help protect your child. There are many different options available to parents that have many different features. It is important to research the different programs and know what you want to protect your child. Restrictive software can be used to create a list of websites you allow your child to visit or can be used to restrict your child from visiting sites you don’t want them to visit. In my opinion, it is easier to create a list to allow them to visit than a list to restrict them from because there are a great deal of websites that should be restricted from children. Have your child tell you the sites they’d like to visit and go to them together to make sure they are safe sites. Then add them to your safe list.
3. Regulate the time your child has on the computer
Regulating the amount of time your child spends on the computer will help keep them safe from cyber bullying and cyber predators. Any child who spends too much time on the computer or other electronics will lose social time with family and friends who are close and may obtain poor socializing skills.
4. Talk to Your Child About Cyber Safety
There are many ways to approach your child about the importance of cyber safety. Keep in mind the age of the child you are talking with. You want to talk at a level that the child understands, but also make sure you do not scare them. Remember that most children won’t be accessing the Internet without your supervision until they can understand the concept of cyber safety so be sure you have the conversation at the right age and maturity level.
5. Clarify Personal Security
Remind your child that just because they are hiding behind a computer screen doesn’t mean they are hidden from predators. It is important that when children are online they do not share any personal information with others or post it online. You can compare this to talking to strangers on the street and it might make more sense to them. Personal information like age, address, phone number, e-mail address, location, schedule, and finance information should never be shared online. Information like this can be used to track or target a child. Remind your child to never share this type of information with anyone online even if it’s someone they know in person. Instead share the information with them in person or over the phone so you know it’s the person you think it is.
6. Be Alert
The best way to keep your child safe is to talk with them and be a part of their life. Know their interests and spend time with them. It’s important for children to have interaction with people in person and not just online. It’s also important for them to know the good and bad uses of the Internet. Talk with them about cyber bullying and cyber predators and answer their questions. In the case of your child being a target of cyber bullying or a cyber predator your child will feel more comfortable talking with you if you are an active part in their life.