A Kids Guide to the Internet: How Parents Can Help Navigate the Digital World
Today’s kids are incredibly tech-savvy, they’ve grown up in a digital world. If you give your kid your phone or tablet, you’d be surprised how quickly they can navigate it.
This digital world brings both enormous benefits and dangers. Kids have access to a wealth of information with a quick search and a couple of clicks. They can ask your smart assistant about the weather, gain access to their favorite games, and connect with their friends instantly. Unfortunately, it’s equally easy to get into trouble. There are many problems a kid can get into on the internet from sharing personal data, to connecting with strangers. And you need to ask yourself, do your kids know what to do if they find themselves in a dangerous or sticky situation?
Being a parent is hard, parenting in the digital world is even harder. We know you want the best for your kids, so we’re providing information on keeping kids safe on the internet. With these tips, you’ll gain an understanding of the dangers and learn how to guide your child on internet best practices that will keep them safe.
Understand Why Internet Safety Matters
Before you can keep your kids safe, you need to understand the dangers. Do your homework to understand the everyday dangers of the internet. There is much to tackle from creating strong passwords, data privacy, social networks, and gaming. To create a good foundation, you’ll need to understand better what you are protecting kids from.
For example, one of the biggest dangers is cyberbullying, which can lead to depression and anxiety. Unfortunately, cyberbullying is on the rise, and sadly, 65% of 8-14-year-olds have been involved in a cyberbullying instance. And this is just one of the many problems kids face online. So to help prevent dangers, you must understand what they are. Below are some of the most common risks:
- Cyber predators
- Online Scams
- Posting personal information
- Inappropriate content
Teach Your Kids to Be Careful About What They Share
The next step to internet safety is to teach your kids about the dangers of the internet. You’ll need to share the research you’ve done above in an age-appropriate way. Start these conversations early. The earlier they understand this, the better off they will be when making choices that keep them safe. Ensure that your kids know not to share personal information, such as where they live or photos of themselves. Explain that anything posted on the internet is public and hard to take down. Let your kids know if they encounter problems or have questions to come to you so you can help.
Age Appropriate Supervision
Sit with your child as they play their favorite game or watch their favorite videos on kids streaming services. It’s essential to do this when your kids are young. You’ll be able to provide hands-on help and set a good example for how to remain safe while navigating the world wide web. Additionally, you’ll be able to keep a close eye on what type of content they are consuming and activities they are involved in.
Once your kids are older, they aren’t going to be so welcoming to this concept. Sitting with them as they browse or engage in conversations will feel like an invasion of privacy. At this point, periodically checking in on browsing history or using parental control apps (more on this later) will be a vital tool to keep your kids safe.
Familiarize Yourself with Apps and Social Channels
Do you know what apps and social channels your kids are interacting with? If not, it’s time to find out. As a general rule of thumb, it’s wise to keep up with what current social platforms are out there.
Unfortunately, there are predators and cyber-bullies on most platforms. However, the better you understand how a platform works, the more you can prevent these interactions. For example, teach your kid how to set their profiles to private, ensure that personal information is not displayed, and create usernames that don’t reveal any confidential information like gender, age, or last names.
Track Time Online
Too much screen time is not good for your child’s physical and mental health. So limit your kid’s screentime. But, how much is too much? The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends limiting older children’s screen time to no more than one or two hours a day. For kids under two, they recommend avoiding screentime altogether when possible.
To help monitor screentime usage, set screentime limits on some devices such as Apple’s Screen Time allows you to set boundaries and access real-time reports of how much time your child (or yourself) spends on your iPhone or iPad.
Parental Controls Apps
A parental control app will help you with some of the ways to keep kids safe and so much more. For example, CommandIQ is our app at Race Communications, which allows our customers to manage and control every aspect of their connected home experience. The mobile app will enable parents to gain advanced control of their online experience, including setting online time limits, blocking the time access to specific content, applications, and websites, and viewing detailed device usage information.
Create a Safe Place for Conversations
The internet is a tricky place. Even though you are putting in many preventative measures, your kids are human. They’re learning the world, and they might make mistakes along the way. Make sure they are not afraid to come to you if those mistakes happen or find themselves in trouble. To foster this environment, talk to your child regularly about what they’re doing online. If you hear of anything in your discussions that you think are not best practices, talk through it with your kid and reiterate best practices. Explain what was wrong and how to improve usage in the future. The most important thing you can do during these conversations is approaching them with empathy. You don’t want your kid to be afraid to come to you should they be in trouble!
Keeping kids safe on the internet can be a daunting task. But it’s critical as a parent or caretaker that you take these steps to protect your child’s safety and well-being. Every small improvement will help you reach the larger goal of keeping your kid safe! Below are a few actionable takeaways to help you get started.
- Take the time to understand the dangers of the internet so you can make a plan to keep your kids safe. Without this knowledge, you’ll only be guessing.
- Teach your kids not to share any personal information.
- Keep open lines of communication with your child. Let them know it’s safe to come to you about anything!
- You don’t have to do this alone! Use parental control apps to help you monitor activities, limit screentime, and block certain websites or apps.