As the world is getting closer and education is moving towards self-learning and exploration rather than rote learning methods, internet access has become essential for children. Gone are the days when seeking information and knowledge were limited to a select number of books available at home or public libraries. Today as parents and children quickly ‘Google’ things to know more, there is a higher need for ‘Safe Search’. Schools too are moving towards tablet learning so children today are online for more number of hours. 5th Feb is being celebrated as Safer Internet Day so I am bringing you a few tips that will help both children and parents.
It is important that Cyber Safety information is passed on to children and is repeated at regular intervals. Here are a few Cyber safety Tips that I have collated for Kids as well as parents.
Ingraining cyber safety checks in children is important and the earlier we start the better.
- Have an open discussion with your children to explain to them the real threats that are out there. Explain it in such a way that they are not fearful but careful and responsible about using the internet. Such discussion also ensures that children understand and appreciate adult supervision instead of perceiving it as adult intervention or worst spying.
- Show some helpful videos that talk about cyber safety and tips for teens. I found these two really useful with some great talking points. Maybe you could show these videos to children and then start your discussion about cyber safety.
Cyber Safety Tips for Kids
- Use the computer in open areas and in adult supervision. Though most search engines are working to ensure relevant and safe information is accessed through them, it is still software or a machine at work. It might not be able to catch everything.
- Anything that you put on the internet will stay there for a long time. Many a times even after you have deleted the original post, copies of it might still be in circulation. Hence be extremely careful about what is being shared.
- Remember to not share any personal information online. Information like your phone number, address, your travel plans is private information and should not be shared online or with strangers.
- Do not post private pictures online. Similarly, if your friends known or unknown are asking for private pictures, revert back with a polite but firm ‘NO’. Once any kind of pictures or videos are out of your control, you cannot dictate where and how it will be used.
- Always confide in your parents or any close adult about the kind of online activities you are involved in. If you are receiving messages or calls from strangers, or are being tempted to try some online games that requires personal information or have threatening undertones, immediately quit the game and inform adults.
- Never disclose your passwords to others, not even to your friends.
- Cyber bullying is real. Do not be an un-witty participant. Be polite in your responses on the internet. Be careful about not hurting others, sexual references or even things like racism and discrimination when you write something online. If you are being bullied online, inform your parents immediately.
- If you are venting out or discussing personal things on any online forum, be careful about what is being shared. Ideally, it is best if you discuss such things in private and in person with your known friends. Online predators are on the lookout of vulnerable targets.
Internet Safety Tips for Parents
- Inform your children about the right age to onboard social networks. Most networks expect the children to be around 14 years. Explain the reasons for the same.
- Having a child’s profile might be tempting, but it is best if you avoid it. Soft Porn sites, pedophiles are real and can easily access your child’s pictures. Be careful about what information you share online. Also see the kind of images that are being shared.
- Do not allow internet use when an adult is not at home or at bedtime.
- Ensure that strict privacy settings are in place for your child’s account.
- Do invest in good net security software that covers multiple devices like computer, smartphones etc.
- Check and activate ‘parental controls’ on various sites. Sites like Google have safe searching sites specifically for kids like Kiddle and YouTube for Kids. There are a few parental control software’s available, so you can download the same as well.
- Teach your kids to be critical of the information available and evaluate the information based on merit. Ask them to double-check any information before sending it out. The governments of various countries are getting stricter about spreading false information and hate.
- Discuss and set rules together for usage of internet. Follow these rules as children do learn a lot by seeing.
- Finally don’t be over critical about your child’s internet exploration. They might accidentally chance upon sites that are off limits. They might ask questions about such sites as they grow up. Be clear about the possible harm and ensure them that your controls are only to ensure that they experience safe internet access.