TECHNOLOGY

Online Risks for Kids: How Can Parents Ensure Safety?

Contents

  1. Risks of being online
  2. Online safety definition
  3. What can you do as parents to prevent your child being exposed to online risks?
  4. Online safety recommendations

 

Young children fascinated by the expanse and depth of the internet often make a few fundamental mistakes. Mistakes that can prove to be extremely dangerous. Keep on reading to discover how you can ensure the online safety of your children.

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What are the risks of using the internet and being online

 

Some of the most common internet safety risks for children include: 

  • Cyberbullying 

Over 65% of all parents worldwide cite cyberbullying or social media bullying as one of their major internet safety concerns.
An alarming number of young children have reportedly witnessed some form of cyberstalking, trolling, catfishing or harassment on social media sites within the past few years showing that online risks are increasing. 
  • Exposure to inappropriate media 

While big tech companies like Google and Facebook have adopted strict policies against violent, gruesome or sexual content, they still often find a way to most kids’ screens. One of the many ways this happens is through unauthorised internet sites accessed via VPN plugins. 
  • Invasion of privacy

Attackers often look to gain access to users’ personal information in order to extort money or other material favours. The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) mentions various activities prevalent among young adults, like sending ‘nudes’ or sexting that can lead to extremely sensitive information being leaked or stolen.
  • Identity theft 👥

Online identity theft is when an impersonator posts or messages people as someone to harass them and ruin their reputation.
Unfortunately, an increasing number of young children have found themselves victims of online identity theft, which has led to subsequent embarrassment, harassment and isolation among peers. 
 


Online safety definition 

 

The most simple definition of online safety is the act of staying safe online. It is also known as internet safety, e-safety or cyber-safety and is something that all parents need to be concerned about when their child is online.

 

What can you do as parents?

 

Simply put, no piece of information on the internet is 100% secure. While this may sound alarming at first, there are things you can do to protect yourself and the information you share online. You should try to practice safeguarding, which is an umbrella term for all the things we do in order to ensure that our children are safe from harm, in a variety of ways to keep your child safe.

Appropriate precautions and safety measures can make it extremely hard for others to access your data. To the point where it doesn’t make sense for intruders to put that much time or effort to get to it.

Organisations like the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), U.K., offer guidelines that help you ensure that your children are always safe on the internet.

NSPCC internet safety guidelines also help parents develop a safe, encouraging environment where children can freely discuss their internet experiences. Having a brief look at them will further help you understand how you can achieve this. 

 

Online safety recommendations

 

The NSPCC online safety guidelines recommend routinely undertaking the following practices to ensure your children’s online safety:

1. Have a conversation 💭

Talk about online safety briefly but often, and gradually start to encourage more detailed conversations. It is essential to know and understand what sites your children spend most of their time on and who they choose to engage with on the internet.

While there are other ways to monitor their internet activity, some methods may make them feel like you don’t trust them and will make them less willing to share.

Creating a safe and open atmosphere where children can freely discuss their time on the internet is a much better strategy. 

2. Set boundaries and agree on them as a family 

It is a good idea to consult everyone in the family and come up with screen-time limits for both the adults and the children in the house. You can also decide what devices and online accounts should be shared among family members. This is especially important when the use of smartphones is more prevalent in the classroom and at home. 

A good way to do this is by talking to other parents about how they choose to restrict screen times and share accounts in their households. You can use their input to decide what would suit your family best. 

3. Monitor when needed 📵

Some forms of internet monitoring and control protocols like parental locks, privacy settings, etc., are necessary.

You can still choose to keep these locks dynamic depending on your children’s age and general internet literacy. 

This makes the process feel more interactive and less totalitarian as far as the kids are concerned. 

Internet safety is an important parental concern. It is vital for you to fully understand the dangers of being on the internet to ensure the safety of your children.

You can then enforce safety measures after discussing them with your family. Making your kids a part of the conversation will make them feel more secure and welcome. Complete internet safety is the result of a collaborative effort that facilitates trust and sharing.

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