How to Keep Children Safe on the Internet

The current generation of children will be more tech-savvy than ever. As parents you are probably the last parenting generation who remembers a time of childhood without the internet, without smartphones, and certainly without the pressures of social media. How to use your experience and knowledge of parenting for an entirely different ballgame? Whilst the online world provides our children with a global playground, and opportunities for socialising and learning outside of their own local bubble, how can you be sure that you’re keeping them safe on the internet? How do you know what really matters when it comes to internet safety for kids?


Understand a Child’s View of the Internet

First of all, before you get concerned with tech and controls, stand back and look at the world of the internet through your child’s eyes. Why are they using it? There are likely to be a myriad of reasons including searches for homework, or to get an answer to a worry that’s been sparked by a chat with friends. They are likely turning to it for entertainment, with video clips at their fingertips, games, and instantly-accessible fun. Social media, chat rooms, and photo-sharing tools are all likely to become part of their online world too.

Knowing how and why children are using the internet becomes the key to ensuring their safety. The internet is an unwieldy beast, and to parent with its existence you need to narrow the scope down and concentrate your efforts in those areas.

Internet Safety for Kids – What Are the Concerns?

Parents are used to worrying. It goes with the territory. However, the biggest worry about the internet is the unknown. Do you need to be worried about cyber-bullying? Is your twelve year old really at risk of sexting? Don’t age restrictions protect them? How do you prevent inappropriate content? What does Stranger Danger look like in internet form? How do you prevent online grooming? How do you stop your child sharing sensitive information? What if they already have? And would they really be able to accidentally run up debts?

The good news is that the internet itself is an excellent resource for educating you. Use it, combined with top tips, and internet safety for kids needn’t be such a daunting prospect.

1. Communicate With Your Child

Starting from the minute you thrust a Peppa Pig app at a fidgety toddler, to the day they get their first phone and onwards, talk about internet safety for kids. Don’t be afraid of the conversation, and do find answers together. Drip-feeding the internet safety messages from a young age stops the Cyber Monster growing out of control and you suddenly being faced with a 10 year old who accidentally downloaded inappropriate material. Cultivate a relationship where they can talk to you about internet concerns.

2. Take the Reins

Your child may seem more computer-literate than you but this can’t be an excuse. Head to sites such as the NSPCC and Get Safe Online to tell you what you should be doing when. The measures that you need to take to ensure internet safety for kids aged 3 are different from those for kids aged 13.

3. Be Online Together

The easiest way to ensure internet safety for kids is to keep it physically within sight and reach. Remove tech from bedrooms, and explore the internet together. Be with your child as they do internet searches, help them with registrations, and bookmark favourite child-safe sites.


4. Set the Rules

As with any aspect of parenting, rules are needed and guidance needs to be given. This is true for your child’s use of the internet too. Let your children know what is expected of them. For example, do they need to tell you a YouTube search term before typing it in? Are you going to check their phone? Don’t forget to pass this information on to anyone who looks after your child, such as a babysitter, so there is consistency in approach.

5. Keep Their Friends Close

You wouldn’t let your child go with a stranger in the real world, so they shouldn’t in the cyber world either. If your child is allowed to use chat functions then make sure you know who they are talking to, about what, and when.

6. Knowledge is Power

Ultimately you want to be able to teach your children how to keep themselves safe online. Therefore take some time to teach them what they need to know. Show them about privacy settings and reporting tools. If you’ve got specific concerns or problem areas then head on over to Internet Matters where you can find tailored information whatever your internet safety concern.

The cyber world is a fantastic resource for children, but being safe must be paramount. Don’t let internet safety for kids be forgotten.


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