As adults we have a responsibility to teach our children how to be safe online and to teach them how to use the WWW; but how do we do that if we ourselves don’t know how? So today’s article will be to educate adults about the internet and how you can keep your kids safe online.
I want to stress that I do not know you or your family and in no way do I want to come across as telling you how to raise your child(ren). If at any point in this article it seems this way, I sincerely apologize.
As with any new toy, there are so many things you will learn about it as you use it and some people just go crazy learning everything, while others just sit back and learn only what they need to know. This toy in particular comes with many benefits, but, it also comes with many negatives. Remember too, nothing is good or bad in and of itself; its how you choose to use it.
Some of the good stuff
- Improved Communication (email, VOIP, Facebook, Google+)
- Cloud storage and sharing (DropBox, P2P)
- International knowledge-base (Wikipedia, online dictionaries, research papers)
Some of the bad stuff
- Online Crime (SPAM, Scams, Phishing)
- Misuse of information in a negative way
- Online Crimes (Cyber-bullying, hate videos, Child Exploitation)
How do we keep kids safe?
First of all we as parents need to educate ourselves about the internet so that we know what’s the good, the bad and the ugly about it and can educate our children. On our last article we discussed how to be safe online, please read that to get a good foundation to build on.
When online safety is practiced and become a habit, the chances of you or your children becoming a victim are greatly minimized. Treat online people as you would any other stranger in real life, not everyone is who they say they are online. Everyone is responsible for their own safety and that of their family. Nothing is 100% safe, remember, the only computer that is 100% safe is the one not connected to the internet.
- Tell children NOT to share usernames and passwords to online accounts no matter who the other person is, except with the parent of course.
- Make sure that you have access to your child(ren)’s online accounts and respect their privacy. If you need to, let them know you may do a random check every now and again to ensure you can check in on them and to check the content they are sharing online.
- Sit with your child(ren) and go over what they are posting online. Make sure it’s not something that could damage them or put them in harm at any time.
- Keep the computer in a room that family spend the most time and set the monitor to face where you sit so as to discourage “secret” talks predators like.
- Online friends do NOT need to know what you look like or where you live.
- Do NOT post personal information online.
- Follow the rules, children 13 and under should NOT have a Facebook or other social accounts, and if you choose to lie and break the law so they can have one, keep them away from friending people they do not know. Predators sometimes pose as kids to attract friendships and lure other kids to them.
- Remember, YOU are the parent, you are not your child’s buddy or best friend, YOU must teach them what’s needed in life to be safe.
- Maintain open communication with your child(ren). If an incident occurs, try not to lash out immediately; if you did your job to educate your child(ren), more than likely they did everything you told them and they met a situation they did not know how to handle. First deal with the incident and then what caused the incident; your child(ren) must have confidence in you and how you deal with the situation. Immediately banning them from using the computer or other tech tool can cause them to not tell you about it or other incidents in the future.
- In the US you can file a report at IC3, you should check if something like this is available in your country.
- If a threat to life or a safety issue arises, call 911 or the local emergency number for your location.
Signs of a possible unhealthy online relationship
- Your child is spending much time online at weird hours.
- You get vague responses when asking what they are doing online for so long.
- Strange numbers show up on your phone bill, especially at strange hours.
- Your child closes, minimizes the page they are on or turns the monitor off when you enter the room or are in seeing distance of the computer they are on.
- Your child has learned some new thoughts that are beyond the comprehension for their age from their “imaginary friend”. Make sure this friends is not a real person they talk to online.
- Your child receives things from someone you do not know.
- Your child has a webcam in their room that you did not buy.
- Your child’s behavioral pattern changes. Children sometimes become excitable or withdrawn after something bad happens or after an illicit sexual encounter.
Stay tuned for more in this series. And please leave a comment below.