The Internet can play an important role in your child’s development, and in this respect it’s great that most children above a certain age are knowledgeable when it comes to accessing websites and the capabilities of browsing. Internet safety is hugely important; there are a number of tips you can use to keep your child safe when he or she is online; here are five of the most important:
1. Monitoring the use of the Internet
Cyberbullying is a major problem for children. You can help your kids combat this issue by monitoring their use of the Internet. Children should be limited to a certain amount of time online, and should only be able to access the Internet whilst in the same room as their parents.
Another useful tip is to follow the guidelines set out by the UK Council for Child Internet Safety, known as ‘Click Clever, Click Safe’. This advice is designed to help parents and children understand the Internet and the risks that can be present when online.
The code is broken down into three actions: zip, block and flag. Personal information should be kept private, and any unknown links received should not be opened. Cyberbullies should be blocked, and parents should encourage children to speak to them about any problems they have encountered online.
2. Switch off Bluetooth and block websites
Mobile phones are an increasingly common medium through which people access the Internet, so mobile phone safety is an equally important issue. You can look after your children, even when they are not at home, by insisting that Bluetooth and location services are switched off. This will minimise the risk of people knowing where your children are at any particular time.
It is also possible to block certain websites and keywords from being accessed; this will reduce the risk of your child accessing inappropriate content online. This can be done directly through your wireless router, which can be password-protected.
3. Use social networking sites with care
Social networking sites should be used with care; only people who your children personally know should be befriended. Parents should also join the social networking sites their children are on, as this will enable them to keep a closer eye on who their children are speaking to online.
4. Protect your child from spam
Spam is a form of email, which is sent randomly to users. These messages often contain links to pornographic material, as well as harmful websites. These can be a form of fraud, as credit card details are often asked for, and the account details are then used by the spammers. Children should be advised never to click on links that they are unsure of, and emails should only be opened if the recipient knows the sender.
5. Online gaming
As any parent will tell you, most children love video games. Online is a section of the gaming market that is rapidly growing. Parents are often keen to encourage these games (especially those which have an educational twist), not least because many of them can be played for free.
However, it is important to remember that online gaming does have a dark side. Games are not only hugely addictive; they also enable users to chat with other players. Children may not be aware of whom they are chatting to, and therefore the use of these games should be closely monitored.
Finally, the best advice that can be given to parents surrounding Internet safety is to ensure that their children feel comfortable speaking about their experiences on the Internet. If this is the case, then they will be more likely to speak up should they encounter any problems.