While the Internet is a great learning platform for your kids, it has certain downsides as well. It allows kids to socialize with each other through various apps and games. But it is also full of cybercriminals and sexual predators. According to a survey by Common Sense Media, about 53% of kids in the US above the age of 11 own a smartphone. Therefore, ensuring Internet safety for kids is every parent’s biggest concern nowadays. Although this process requires patience and commitment, it can go a long way to safeguard your child.
Being a parent, you can ensure your kid’s safety like no one else can. You can take your kids under confidence and ask them to share their online experiences with you. You can also keep an eye on their kids and sit with your kids while they engage in online activities.
What Kind of Dangers Can Your Kid Encounter?
Before knowing about the strategies to ensure Internet security for your kids, you should have adequate knowledge about the kind of threats they can face.
Although you might not consider your kids to be at risk of cybercrimes, hackers usually target them for a couple of reasons. Children don’t have credit cards or other private assets but they do have social security numbers. Ensuring Internet safety for kids is important because hackers try to access their sensitive information and use it to change their age and apply for loans. So, such an act can effectively ruin your kid’s future.
About one in five US teenagers face sexual harassment on the web on any given day. Sexual predators can lure them into having inappropriate conversations with them or sharing inappropriate media. The risk can multiply if your kid is using public Wi-Fi. These predators can even go as far as arranging a meeting to assault them.
If your kid is a regular user of high-speed Internet services like Cox 1 Gbps Internet, he/she is at great risk of cyberbullying as well. Social media platforms and online gaming forums are the biggest sites of cyberbullying. Exposure to abusive language and demeaning words can greatly deteriorate a child’s mental health and his/her performance at school.
The Internet can show your kids inappropriate content and ads even when your kids might have not searched for it. About 70% of children report that they encountered adult content without searching for it. One such interaction with inappropriate content can make them develop inappropriate web surfing habits.
How Can You Keep Your Child Safe?
You can ensure Internet safety for kids in several ways. These would enable you to gain your kid’s confidence and make him/her surf safely.
Stay Informed About Their Friends and Whereabouts
No matter how notoriously your kids try to keep themselves away from you, always stay informed about their whereabouts and their friends. Other kids can share inappropriate content with your kid. So, always try to sit with your kids while they are streaming or surfing something. If that is not possible, keep ask them about what they are doing and what they plan to do.
Communicate with your kids about the dangers of online surfing. Ask them whether they have received phishing emails or inappropriate images from unknown sources. Tell them about the threats in great detail so that they understand their gravity.
Know About All the Risky Sites and Apps
It’s important to stay aware of all the new apps and sites. Some apps allow people to protect photos and videos with passwords. If your kid is using such an app, make sure you know what he/she has stored in it. Ask them to avoid sharing their photos and videos on platforms like Snapchat and Line as anyone can take screenshots and misuse private information.
Have an Informed Knowledge of Acronyms
Make sure you know about all the commonly used acronyms to protect your kids against cyberattacks. You can learn them from “Internet Safety 101.” Although it may seem inappropriate to read your kid’s text, it is very important to do so given the enormous number of online threats.
Fix Usage Hours/Screen Time
Make sure that you allow your kids to stream content/ surf web only for a fixed number of hours. If that doesn’t seem to work, you can contact your ISP through customer care phone number to subscribe to an Internet plan with data caps. This’ll automatically limit your kid’s data usage and screen time.
Keep an Eye on the Privacy Settings
Various social media and gaming platforms have customizable settings. Gain your kid’s trust and change these settings to keep hackers at bay. Make sure you inform your kids about these changes and the reasons for doing so as well.
Make Use of Parental Controls
Your Internet service has various tools that can allow you to limit your kid’s access to harmful/explicit sites. You can even set up passwords to guard them against online threats.
Know the Important Signs
Lastly, you should know about all the behavioral changes that your kid might express as a result of coming across inappropriate content. These may include changing their friends’ group, refraining from sharing information about their online activity and not wanting to go to school extra. When he/she expresses such behaviors, sit him/her down and have an informed conversation with them.