Posted on October 16, 2016 by CHS
In this day and age, it’s possible that your five-year-old is more smartphone-savvy than you! Children today are introduced to technology and computers much earlier in life, which can be beneficial for enjoying educational games and apps, and having easier access to research for school projects.
However, there are many downsides that come along with the good. The internet is full of hidden physical and emotional dangers for children, and may also reduce their activity levels and creative play.
So before you allow your child to start using the internet, it’s important to teach them appropriate online behaviors and set guidelines for using computers, tablets, and smartphones.
Here are some suggestions for how to keep your children safe online at different ages:
- Supervise your child as he begins using mobile devices or a computer. Children can easily stumble onto content that could be inappropriate, scary, or confusing.
- Consider parental controls like filtering and blocking, blocking outgoing content, limiting time, using specific browsers for kids, kid-oriented search engines, and monitoring tools.
Tweens (8- to 12-year-olds):
- Guide your child as she begins to explore online more on her own.
- Think about setting limits on how long and how often your child can be online on her mobile devices, computers, or phones.
- Talk about the credibility of the websites he goes visits. Your child needs to understand that not everything he sees on the internet is true and that once something is posted online, it’s almost impossible to take it back.
- Explain to your child that people online may not be who they appear to be or say they are.
- Information or images shared online can be seen far and wide. They are never private.
- Talk about manners. Whatever your child says online, she is saying it to a real person. Remind her that they are real people with real feelings behind profiles, screen names, and avatars.
There are different concerns for children at different ages. However, no matter what age they are at, you should continue to communicate with your child about internet safety.
Here are some tips that you can use with your child at any ages:
- As soon as your child starts using any mobile devices or computers, talk to her about online behavior and safety.
- It is up to you to start the conversation, don’t wait for your child to approach you. Approach her first.
- Don’t rush these conversations with your child. Take your time and continue to remind him daily. It is important to keep the lines of communication open, even if you learn your child has done something online that you find inappropriate.
- Talk to your child about oversharing. Sharing too much information or posting pictures, videos, or words can damage a reputation or hurt someone’s feelings.
- At this day and age, bullying has turned to online cyberbullying. This can happen in an email, a text message, online games, or on a social media site.
- Develop rules by talking to your child about when and where it’s appropriate to use his phones and other mobile devices.
- Mobile sharing and networking can get dangerous with many strangers roaming online. Talk to your child about making good judgement when they are sharing photos and videos and using social networks on mobile devices.
- Monitor and talk to your child about mobile apps. Mobile apps can collect and share personal information, spend real money, include ads, and links to social media.
- Talk to your child about computer security so that she can help protect her devices and your family’s personal information.
- While public Wi-Fi can be convenient, it is often not secure. This makes it easier for someone else to access your family’s online account or steal personal information.
- Phishing scams occur when scam artists send text, emails, or pop-up messages to get people to share their personal and financial information.
To read further in depth about any of these tips, see: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/pdf-0001-netcetera_0.pdf as it gives thorough instructions for each of the tips.
For more childhood safety tips, download our Safety brochure or listen to the Safety podcast.