Safety First: Keep Your Kids Safe Online
September 21, 2023
Everything is online for children, whether they are socializing, doing school work, or looking for entertainment. While they may know how to use the internet, they may need to learn how to use it safely. There is a lot of exciting and informational content on the internet, but there are also things that could be harmful. With a little help from Alberta Provincial Rural Crime Watch, adults like yourself can give kids the tools to keep themselves and their families safe online.
Benefits of Online Safety for Kids
Ensuring your children are using the internet safely is important in today's digital age, and parents play a crucial role in helping give kids the tools to be safe. The internet is a treasure trove of knowledge waiting to be explored, and when our kids are safe, they can learn so much. And by shielding them from cyberbullying and other online threats, we're giving them that extra boost of confidence.
They become savvy internet detectives when we show them how to spot scams and bad people. As parents, it is also important to help them find the right balance between screen time and real-life fun, which means healthier, happier kids and stronger family connections.
Understanding Online Risks
While the internet can be fun and educational, there are risks. Here are some common online risks you and your children should be aware of.
Sharing Personal Information
Unfortunately, you cannot trust everyone you meet online. If your children share their personal or another family member’s information, others could exploit that knowledge. Facts such as their full names, age, location and other personal information should not be shared online.
The internet is not just used by children, which means not all the content is appropriate for them to view. You can restrict the content your child is able to access using parental controls and filters in search engines like Google. You can also set parental controls through your home internet settings and their devices.
Bullying is not just on the school grounds or in common hangout places, it has also moved online. Young people may be targeted on different online platforms through hateful comments, rumours, releasing children’s information, and other forms of cyberbullying. It's hard for them to escape the harassment as their phones and devices are always with them. As adults, we can recognize how tough this is for them and work towards creating a safer and more supportive online space.
Children may be unsuspectedly interacting with online predators who seek to exploit young and vulnerable individuals. Kids who are looking for friendship and acceptance that they can’t find offline are especially likely to become victims. By educating themselves about the dangers of online grooming and establishing guidelines for safe online interactions, parents can help protect their kids from potential harm.
Limiting Mobile Phone & Computer Use
It's important to limit children's screen time to prevent various physical and mental health problems. Encourage them to engage in outdoor activities and hobbies, and spend quality time with the family to maintain a healthy and balanced lifestyle. Setting internet usage restrictions can prevent addiction and other related issues.
Online Behavior (“Netiquette”)
When anyone is active online, including children, they have to remember that “netiquette” should be enforced.
They should treat online life just like their offline life. They should know not to say anything online that you wouldn’t say to someone in person. What is said on the internet can impact others in real life. As well, if they see something they don’t agree with, like cyberbullying or harassment, they should talk to a trusted adult for help.
Children should also not post things their friends have told them without their permission and not upload pictures of or with someone else without their consent.
Creating a Safe Environment for Kids Online
Parents and adults, such as other family members and teachers, can provide children with the knowledge and tools to stay safe online.
Parents should educate their children on the importance of protecting their online privacy and avoiding sharing sensitive information with strangers to avoid identity theft and exploitation. Strong privacy settings on social media accounts and limiting access to personal data can also improve online security.
Helping them set strong passwords help keep their online accounts safe. When creating a password, using a mix of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters can make it more difficult for others to guess or crack their passwords. It's also important to avoid using personal information such as names, birthdates, or phone numbers, as these can be easily guessed by someone who knows them well or has access to their personal information.
Another way to enhance your online security is to enable parental controls, as it can help to restrict access to certain websites and block inappropriate content. Most devices and internet service providers offer parental control settings that you can easily activate, so it's worth taking the time to set this up if you haven't already. By taking these steps, you can help to protect yourself and your family from online threats and stay safe while using the internet.
Also, encourage them to talk to you about their online activity. You want to create an open and safe dialogue with them in the event something bad happens. They should feel comfortable coming to you for help.