10 tips for teaching your children about internet safety

child safety

Technology is advancing faster than we could have ever predicted and our children have more access to it than we would really like. With new apps being released every day and children using the internet at home and at school, we need to make sure we have given them the tools they need to stay safe online.

If you struggle to know what to say about the internet to your little ones then this quick guide will help you start the conversation.

1: Start talking to them about it as early as possible so it’s a topic they are used to discussing with you.

child on internet

It is tough to know what to say. Especially that, as parents, there are so many things we are afraid of. Try not to scare your children too much though, there are many positive uses for the internet and you want them to benefit from those, they just need to know to be careful.
Also remember that mistakes can be made on the internet by anyone at any age. It’s easy to share the wrong thing or to open an email with a virus for example. Be careful how you deal with any mistakes your children do make, correct and educate them rather than punishing them for it. If you punish them, they won’t want to approach you next time they have an issue.

2: Keep the channels of communication open.

father and son talk

Kids do silly things all of the time. They put themselves in difficult situations and they struggle to get out of them alone. Your children need to know that they can talk to you when they need help or if they are struggling with something. 
If a stranger starts talking to them on the internet, and the conversation takes a turn for the worst, they need to know they can come to you and you will address the situation. You don’t want them to try to manage alone out of fear of what you will say about them talking to strangers.

3: Enforce the idea of ‘Stranger Danger’

stranger danger

Children forget that strangers are still dangerous, whether they are in person or over the internet. They don’t understand the risks of accepting ‘friend requests’ from people they don’t know. As adults we know that on the internet, predators take all shapes and forms. They pretend to be other children, they pretend to be male or female, they pretend to be friendly.

Without scaring them, make sure they know that it doesn’t matter if it’s a child adding them as a friend, things on the internet aren’t always as they appear to be. Especially when information on websites are so accessible.

4: Don’t share things online that you don’t want everyone to see…

centre of attention

Whether it is images, statuses or messages. Everything they write, post or send can be shared and reposted. If they don’t want their Grandma to see what they were drinking last night or the mess they got theirself into, don’t share it with the world.

In the world of today, these posts aren’t just available for a short period of time either. Their future Boss may see them, their university teachers might see them, their future children might see them!

If they wouldn’t go around openly sharing this information with everyone, tell them not to share it online. Many people in the public eye have been fired over a stupid comment written on Facebook or Twitter years ago. Even after these posts were deleted, they still came back to haunt them…

5: Privacy settings

privacy settings

Tell your children that their privacy settings on social sites should always be set to private. It doesn’t protect them from things being copied or screen printed and shared but it does stop certain undesirable getting easy access to information.

6: Make sure the antivirus software is up to date

anti virus

Predators aren’t the only people trying to access information. Credit card thieves and hackers can use information they access to steal from your bank accounts.

7: If they wouldn’t say it to someone’s face, don’t say it online

say no evil

Words hurt. Whether they are over the internet or in person. They hurt. Teach them that online bullying is just the same as bullying someone in person. If it isn’t nice or necessary, don’t say it.

8: Monitor usage

baby on laptop

Keep a close eye on what the internet is being used for. Monitor which apps are being downloaded and search any apps you are unsure of. Make sure your children aren’t having prolonged periods of time alone and unmonitored on the internet. Talk to them regularly about the sites they use and what they use them for.

9: Keep reminding them

child conversation

Children forget things. They are less cautious than adults and once they have been using the internet for a while without any issues they are likely to start to forget the rules (or think you worry too much). Keep reminding them and reinforcing the rules and safety instructions you give them.

10: Spend time with them

family time

Help them to understand the rules by demonstrating them. Show your children that you follow the rules too. They are more likely to listen if they think the rules apply to everyone. Lead by example and show them age appropriate examples of people that have broken the rules.

See examples below:

This person wrote that comment, that’s not very nice is it? I bet they wouldn’t have said that in person because it would hurt that person’s feelings.”

Well that is a bit embarrassing, I bet he/she wishes they hadn’t posted that on here now everyone has seen it.”

This person has just sent me a friend’s request, but I don’t know them. What do you think I should do?

Engage them so they know what to do in these situations. They are more likely to remember your lessons that way.

Want to read more from RLR Distribution? Check out the What the creation of the first AI psychopath means for Human Kind post.