Keeping kids safe is one of the most important things that parents, teachers, and caregivers do. Teens spend more time online than ever, immersing themselves in social media, texting, online gaming, and just plain wasting time on the internet. Your baby or toddler is unlikely to get online yet—so for now you know that they are safe. But what happens when they grow older? How do you keep them safe as they enter this wild world of social media, texting and online predators?
Cyberthreats are constantly evolving and become more sophisticated every day. It can be hard to keep up with all the latest cyberthreats and how to protect yourself and your kids from becoming victims of identity theft, phishing scams, and other dangers.
The internet is an essential part of life, and it’s everywhere—at work, in the classroom, at home, and on-the-go. But with so much time and attention being spent online, it’s important to understand and manage the risks—especially for young digital natives who are growing up with technology.
Cyberbullying is common among young children and teenagers, and chances are your child will encounter it at some point. As cyberbullying becomes more widespread, young people often feel the effects of it deeply. In fact, in a survey conducted by the PEW Research Center, 59 percent of teen respondents said they had been victims of online harassment or bullying.
The vast and colorful cacophony of the internet can be a lot to attempt for anyone who has entered its realm. As an online user, you are constantly bombarded by an unending stream of content, so it can be difficult to discern between the useful and the spam.
As a parent, busy schedule or not, you may not have all the time in the world to keep your kids safe online. And even if you did have all the time in the world? Who is ready to devote every last minute of their day monitoring their kid’s behavior on all their various media channels and software? Not many two-income and single-parent households on the market. Thankfully, it’s not necessary for you to keep your kids safe online –to confer with our list of tips below.
40 Things every parent can do to keep their kids safe online
- Be open and honest.
- Establish some rules (and respect them.)
- Avoid oversharing.
- Set the example.
- Get the conversation going.
- Check Their Phone
- Set Limits
- Monitor Social Media Accounts
- Talk About the Dangers With Your Kids
- Monitor Photo Sharing
- Teach Them to Be Web Savvy
- Do a little research before buying a device.
- Set the rules early on.
- Teach them to recognize inappropriate content.
- Decide on a permanent location for your family’s computer.
- Have one person supervise all devices being used by kids under age 8.
- Don’t allow children to have phones when they are too young.
- Establish strict computer and phone time limits for teens.
- Make sure your teens know that any inappropriate content could get them kicked off their devices for good.
- Don’t forget to monitor the apps your kids download and use on their phones and tablets.
- Be prepared to have the conversation
- Set up parental controls
- Know your kids’ logins and passwords
- Check out the privacy settings on apps your kids use
- Teach children to look out for each other.
- Make sure your children understand their rights and responsibilities when it comes to online safety, including the dangers of cyberbullying and sexting, and how to report it.
- Never assume that your child is immune from cyber risks – no one is too young or too smart to become a victim.
- Talk to your children about different ways to protect themselves.
- Use security software.
- Teach your kids not to share too much online.
- Take the computer out of the bedroom.
- Encourage face-to-face interaction with friends.
- Do not accept friend requests from people you don’t know.
- Set privacy limits on their social media accounts (e.g., set their profiles to private).
- Do not post any information online that could be used to identify them (e.g., their hometown, school name, phone number, etc.).
- Never send or receive intimate photos or videos of themselves or anyone else.
- Do not write anything online that they wouldn’t say in person.
- Don’t respond to threatening messages and keep them so they can be shown to an adult.
- If they’re being bullied you should consider bringing in a third party to help resolve the problem (e.g., a school principal or law enforcement agency).
- Don’t engage with the bully. That just gives the bully exactly what he/she wants — your attention and the enjoyment of getting you aggravated, angry or upset.
These are the Top Online Threats for Teens and Kids
As your kid surfs the internet, it’s easy for them to get caught up in the moment and forget that there are real people behind the computer screens. Just as it’s important for you to be aware of the online risks your teen faces, it’s also important to teach them how to protect themselves and how to act responsibly.
Theft: From stealing personal information (like credit card numbers) to taking over social media accounts (to send out abusive messages or embarrassing photos), hackers aren’t picky about what they swipe from unsuspecting teens
Cyberbullying: One of the most disturbing aspects of young people’s online behavior is cyberbullying. This can include anything from crude, cruel teasing to serious threats that put a target’s life in danger. The Internet and social media have made this problem worse than ever before.
Cyberbullying is often a symptom of deeply rooted problems that don’t get fixed. Many teens are at the mercy of the Internet and can find little relief from the hurtful words and comments. Bullying in person can elicit physical and verbal attacks, but online bullying is more sophisticated. Trolling is the art of making someone feel worthless by posting insulting messages, and cyberbullying often involves sending anonymous messages through IM, texting, email or other means.
Online predators: There are plenty of predators out there who want to use lies and other deceitful tactics to manipulate your teen into trusting them. Sometimes they’re looking for sex; sometimes they’re looking for information they can use to blackmail your teen (or you); sometimes they may be looking for a way into your home. Predators know how to zero in on their prey. Over-sharing is a red flag, so be sure your children don’t post personal information on their profiles. Remind them that giving out their phone number to someone they meet online could lead to a call from an unknown person with bad intentions. The best policy here is to restrict kids from sharing any personal details until you know for certain who they are talking to.
Inappropriate content: From porn to profanity and everything in between, the internet is filled with all manner of content that you wouldn’t want your kids seeing. And believe us when we say that it’s far too easy for young people to stumble upon inappropriate content without meaning to — as little as a single misspelling can turn a simple search for Frozen into an unexpected glimpse at some NSFW material.
It’s important to talk to your teen about the consequences of their online activity and make sure they understand that once something is out there, it can’t always be taken back.
Here are a few ways you can help your teen stay safe online:
Make sure your teen knows how to keep their personal information private. Help them set their privacy settings on social media sites and chat programs so that only people they know and trust can see what they’re posting. If you’ve got younger kids, don’t let them have an open profile that everyone can see.
Teach your child not to give out passwords or other personal information online. Remind them that they should never agree to meet someone they “met” in a chat room or other online environment without first talking to you and getting grown-up approval. If your child has a webcam, be sure it isn’t accidentally turned on when he or she is using the computer — this is where predators get those inappropriate images of children that often turn into child pornography charges.
Talk about how cyberbullying can lead to serious consequences for both the victim and the bully.
The best way to keep your kids safe online is to teach them how to protect themselves. Make them aware of the risks they face on social media and IM, where a single abusive message can ruin an entire day.
More importantly, make them understand that they have the right to block and report anyone who harasses them. Encourage your teens to think twice before opening an email or IM, even if it’s from a friend. And tell them to report any offensive messages they receive immediately.
Keep screens and devices where you can see them
Always have a device or a screen where you can see it, open and relatively freely for your children. This is a great method for parents to monitor your children’s time online, particularly younger children. If you have multiple access points in your home, you can try to keep the computer in a central spot so that it is easy to keep an eye on what your child is doing and viewing online.
For mobile devices, you can set them to forget Wi-Fi passcodes so your children can not go online without you knowing. You can also try to make an agreement that there are no tablets, laptops or gaming in bedrooms.
Use parental controls for full-proof security
Parental controls and search restrictions can help block access from certain websites and content.
Nowadays, there’s a rise in the number of children using the internet. With that, comes an increase in the demand for internet security systems and parental control software to ensure that children remain safe when surfing the web. You don’t want your child stumbling upon explicit material on a search they thought was just plain “Google-ing”. It’s also worth noting that some devices come with parental controls already installed so you might not be aware they are even active.
Like kids safety phones which come with in-built parental controls
You probably remember the first time you accidentally came across an image on the web that was meant for adults only. It can be a rude awakening, especially for younger internet users who haven’t yet learnt how to properly and safely search online, with or without parental guidance. Thankfully though, there are a number of tools at your disposal that you can install on your home or business Wi-Fi router to reduce, if not entirely eliminate, unwanted and disturbing content from entering your home.
Know what your child is doing online.
This might mean sitting down with them and asking, “What do you like about being online?”, or “What websites do you like to visit?” Knowing what your kids enjoy doing online will help you monitor their activity and give you a sense of what they are interested in and what they may be exposed to. It’s also an opportunity to discuss the importance of privacy and how to stay safe online.
Know who your children’s online friends are
Some people online aren’t who they say they are, but children and young people can be alarming naïve about who they are chatting with if they are not taught to be cyber wise from an early age. Don’t assume that your child knows how to keep themselves safe. We can’t watch every conversation and we shouldn’t have to. However, as adults, we know that some people online aren’t who they say they are, but children and young people can be alarming naïve about who they are chatting with if they are not taught to be cyber wise from an early age.
Teach your children to keep their location private
Most apps, platforms and devices have geo-tagging/GPS features. When activated, these features tell the world where you are! Cell phones make up the largest group of location trackers. Simply turning on your mobile device’s GPS can share your location with any application or provider you’re connected to, including legitimate services like Facebook, Weather apps, Google Maps or Starbucks.
If you want to keep your family safe, turn off any geo-tagging on mobile devices, apps and web sites immediately.
The next time you let your child use a smartphone or sign in to social media remember to check their privacy settings. The smallest details of your child’s life can put them in danger and most likely those details are accessible for all the world to see.
When you consider the amount of time children spend online, it’s pretty important that they have the ability to lock down their privacy settings. Protecting your kids means securing their devices and knowing that they’re practicing safe internet habits at all times. These precautions are especially important if you’re letting them spend time on smartphones or other mobile devices.
Keep track of online time
You agree on a period of time, say 30 minutes per session and set a timer to go off – don’t forget to make this a non-negotiable finish time. You should also switch off the home Wi-Fi at a set time each night (ideally before bedtime) so everyone has some ‘time-out’ from the internet.
It is important that parents keep a track of their children’s online time, especially when they are young. It is suggested by the Australian Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines that children between the age of five and 17 should have no more than two hours of screen time per day. It is also suggested that Wi-Fi be switched off at a set time every night in order to encourage family members to pursue other forms of entertainment than technology-driven activities.
Hold conversations about cyber safety.
Talk openly with your child about cyber safety and let them know that it’s OK to come to you with any questions, concerns or issues that arise from their internet use. You should also talk about the risks of sharing personal information and images – for example, never giving out passwords or full name, address, school name or other identifying details. If your child receives a message that makes them feel uncomfortable, they should tell someone right away – whether it’s a parent or teacher at school. Most schools now have a cyber safety policy that encourages this kind of open communication.
A word of advice on Child safety from Parental Daily
Please don’t think of this list as a daunting ‘to do list’. Cyber safety is something that we all need to be aware of and our list is just a starting point. There are many resources available at childsafety.org.au, if you need extra ideas or assistance to help guide your family in staying safe online.
Just remember your family will always come first, so be prepared to make some sacrifices along the way. Don’t let the internet, or the added convenience it offers, ever get in the way of your own relationships with your children.
With so much misinformation and misleading advice online, being able to trust a valid and reliable source of information is essential when looking to ensure the security of your family.
In this comprehensive guide, we hope that you find some useful tips and information about creating boundaries for your kids in their use of digital technology, as well as some insight into how to educate them on how to be safe. The most important point is that you get involved with what they are doing online and open up a two way communication to keep them safe and having fun. If you do this, there’s nothing to worry about.
The potential for cyber bullying is here to stay and sadly, it’s a problem that we hear about in the news on a frequent basis. Similarly, you can expect online grooming to become more common than it is now. These should be serious enough reasons to make sure that you have the right tools and information at your disposal to keep your children safe from these dangers.
But don’t stop with your own family—don’t be afraid to spread the word about these issues in your community, particularly if you know of those who are both vulnerable and likely to be targeted because of it.