The internet is great for helping young people stay connected with their friends and access learning resources online, especially during the pandemic, but it can also be quite a dark and dangerous place if not used responsibly. With that said, it’s important for parents to sit down with their children and talk about internet safety on a regular basis. Here’s some advice from an independent school in West Sussex.
It’s important to have some strict rules in place when it comes to using the internet within your family, both to limit screen time and to keep your child safe from harm. For instance, they should never share personal information online, they should never meet up with someone they’ve only ever met on the internet and they should think carefully before posting anything, as it can never truly be deleted. Some parents don’t allow their children to use the internet unsupervised/with the door closed, but that’s entirely up to you and dependent on your child’s age and how much you trust them.
You might not want to go into full detail about paedophiles, scammers and other horrors of the world with your young child, but it’s important that they know that there are people on the internet who sometimes pretend to be someone they’re not to inflict harm on others. With that said, your child should be weary of who they’re speaking to online.
Additionally, the other side of online safety is not just about your children covertly sharing their personal information that they should keep to themselves. It is also about only letting your child use sites that you can trust and about keeping your personal data like passwords and credit card information off and not on autofill for shared devices. The last thing you want is for your tech to get hacked and have your and all of your family’s information on the dark web. While we as a society have adapted and learned how to protect ourselves if breaches do occur through updated laws and options like eCourt services to deal with cyber crime, the best thing is to be vigilant and practice online safety.
Do some research into the different websites and apps that your child uses and find out if they are age appropriate and if there are any parental controls that you can set-up. For instance, some online games have the option to switch off the chat function so that your child cannot talk to strangers. They also have payment blocks so that your children can’t make purchases without your confirmation. Be sure to stay involved in your kids’ lives, not just present. Check in with your child regularly to ensure everything is ok and make sure they know to report any bullying incidents they have spotted online and block the websites that you think they should be avoiding.