For many parents, online safety is one of the big worries that can cause anxiety and stress. Almost all children end up having access to the Internet in one way or another, so if access is inevitable, how do you keep your children safe and informed? The most important thing is to talk to them regularly and lead by example. Here are three top tips to help you keep your child safe online.
Encourage Family Screen Time
Holding screen time in a communal room, with other family members about, will get harder to implement once your kid hits their teens, but for younger children having you (or another adult) nearby when they are on a device is one good way to make sure you know what’s going on. This isn’t about spying on your child, but checking in and ensuring that they feel comfortable and aren’t interacting with strangers online. You could set it up so that you are also on a screen, doing the online grocery shop or scrolling through Instagram, whatever takes your fancy. That way, when screen time is over, you can lead by example and put your phone away. Your child will recognize that there are boundaries around screen access and is more likely to agree.
Talk Regularly About Safety Online
Make sure your child understands some of the key issues, emphasize that they should never give away private information about themselves, or trust that everyone online is who they claim to be. Demonstrate what these terms mean through activities. For example, to explain what private information means, draw a treasure chest and then write some of your private information inside (your full name, address, bank details, etc). Then get your child to do the same, for themselves. You don’t have to stay super serious throughout this activity but do ensure that your child understands the point that anything inside the treasure chest should not be given out to people online. This way, they will have a better understanding of when something feels wrong online and can come and find you.
Make sure you know how to set parental limits on your child’s device so that certain sites can’t be accessed. You can also set time reminders so that your child knows when they have reached their limit of screen time. Explain to your child that these limits are in place to keep them safe, happy, and healthy—remind them of all the great things you do together that don’t involve a screen. Make sure to get outside, and give them plenty of fresh air, so there is a balance between screen time and everything else.