It seems like every week there is a news story about a child gone missing. In many cases, social media has played a part in the disappearance. The question is whether your child will return safely to you or not.
Of course, you can’t stop your child from going out and you can’t ban them from the internet, they are both important to their development. Digital friends can be just as beneficial as physical friends, but your child has to know when it’s okay to make friends and what they should be sharing.
That means you need to know how to keep them safe in a digital world.
Educate Your Children
The first step is to talk to your children. If they are aware of the potential dangers they are less likely to become a victim. They also should be made aware that you will be taking steps to protect them by limiting access to certain parts of the internet.
It’s important they are aware of this and why you’re doing this, otherwise they’ll simply find a way around your parental controls, it’s not as hard as you think.
Don’t forget that 95% of children between 12 and 17 are online, your child needs to be in that percentage or they’ll be starting adult life with a disadvantage.
Consider Tracking Your Children
If you’ve ever been concerned about your safety or that of your child then you’ve probably considered getting a mobile phone tracker app. It’s a good way of monitoring what they are doing online and of tracking them in the real world.
The beauty of this is that they don’t need to know you’re tracking them but you are able to monitor everything they do. You should use this information to ensure they are not visiting places they shouldn’t, or engaging in inappropriate conversations.
If they are then you’re going to need to bring it up with them. Again, it’s better to talk this out than to simply block their access.
Monitor Your Children’s Internet Usage
When your children are younger and just starting to explore the Internet you should sit with them, in the same way that you’d sit with them reading a book.
You can help to guide them, although they’ll soon know more than you. You can also ensure the content they are viewing is appropriate. In fact, studies show children alter their internet behavior when they’re being watched by their parents. Simply sitting with them can help to keep them safe.
Talk to Others
Your children are going to get online in a variety of ways, including at school and with friends. That’s why it’s important to talk to other parents and the school. This is a great way of ensuring that you’re all approaching the issue from the same angle. That will make it much easier to keep your child on track.
Keep Up to Date
The internet is not static. It is constantly evolving and new challenges are created all the time. Make sure you have time to stay abreast of these changes and you’ll be able to ensure your children have access to everything they could need to enjoy the internet safely.
Keep Yourself in the Loop
You need to show your child you’re interested in what they’ve discovered and are looking at on the Internet. Get them to show you what they’ve been looking at and try to understand, this will help you to create a bond over the fun stuff and ensure they are ready to talk to you about the more complex or challenging items.
Gaining their trust is essential if you want them to stay safe online.
Finally, never forget that the digital world is only part of life, your children need to experience the physical world as well. That’s why it’s important to set boundaries on-screen time and get them outside.