Guidelines All Parents Must Set to Keep Kids Safe Online

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Before the internet, it wasn’t as difficult to keep kids safe. We reminded them to be home before dark, not to talk to strangers, and to let us know where they were. Today, it’s a lot more complex. Kids can be safely ensconced in their bedroom but exposed to a million and one insidious threats online. From predatory pedophiles to opportunist fraudsters, the online world can be a very scary place for kids. 

As a parent, it’s our job to set firm guidelines that help to keep children out of harm’s way. If your kids are old enough to use internet-enabled devices, read on. Here are some key guidelines all parents must set, so children can enjoy the benefits of internet access without being exposed to danger.

Review the Dangers

There are many dangers out there. Talk to your kids about the threats they may face, as they might not consider some of the less obvious ones. 

Cyberbullying isn’t just confined to trolling and anonymous posts. Your kids might experience cyberbullying from their friendship groups. It’s important that you tell your kids you are there for them if things get out of hand. Cyberbullying destroys lives, so do not underestimate how toxic it can get.

Talk to your kids about the dangers of sharing personal information. It might not have occurred to them that posting information online can lead to identity theft, phishing, and more. Input their details into a site like Nuwber to show them how much information is in the public domain. They’ll probably be shocked. 

Sexual content is prolific online. As well as educating your kids on why online porn is not the best way to learn about sex, it’s important to remind them of the dangers of sharing explicit photos and texts. This is something a lot of kids do, but they are often unaware of the potential consequences. For example, disseminating explicit photos of a minor is child pornography, which is a federal offense.  

Talk About the Bad Places

Depending on the age of your kids, have a discussion about what websites should be avoided. Some ISPs let parents block certain content, such as porn. It’s best to do this if you are concerned about your kids accessing inappropriate websites. 

Set Standards for Online Activities

You are the parent, so you set the rules. There’s no need to be too draconian, but guidelines are important. Set standards about what is and is not appropriate. For example, you could have a rule whereby devices are not allowed at the dinner table or in bedrooms at night. 

Have rules in place from a young age, so kids are used to them before they reach the more difficult teenage years. 

Remind kids that social media age guidelines are there for a reason. It’s not OK to set up a social media profile when your child is underage, even if they want to connect with friends online. Make it a condition of using social media that you are a “friend” on their page. That way you can keep an eye on what they post.

Always keep a watchful eye on what your kids do when they are online. For younger children, it’s a good idea to restrict internet usage to a PC/tablet in a family room, so you can monitor what sites your kids use, and intervene in necessary. Do you have strict rules regarding internet usage at home? Let us know in the comments.

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