As a parent, you want your child to experience all the exciting things life has to offer. These days, a majority of this action is on the internet. The internet can be a rewarding, educational and entertaining forum, full of new ideas, easy-to-access information and conveniences our parents only dreamed of (can I hear you say online shopping!), but it can also be full of risks and challenges for the younger generation. Children can easily be exposed to sexual, violent and/or illegal content, not to mention the increase in cyber bullying, inappropriate content and opportunities for contact with strangers and sexual predators; so it’s parents who play the most important role in keeping kids safe and ensuring they have positive experiences online.
Discuss Risks and Agree On Rules
Teach your kids about the risks of the internet, giving age appropriate examples. A 3 yr old will not understand the concept of strangers using their personal information for identity theft, but they can be taught that there are simply some things that you do not put online. All children need to know they cannot provide their own or any family member’s personal information to anyone online. Older children can be taught about the consequences of posting inappropriate comments and photos, explaining how their actions can affect others unintentionally and that once it’s on the internet, it’s on there forever. Don’t be afraid to use the internet to your advantage and “google” some examples, or point out articles or news stories where the internet has affected someone permanently.
Understanding how the Ipad, Ipods, laptops and any other online devices work will help you navigate your own way around them, and find any sneaky places your kids may be able to hide things they are doing, or programs that may enable predators or scammers to do the same. Make sure your kids are clear on how to stay safe and encourage them to tell you immediately if anything suspicious, uncomfortable or threatening happens to them whilst they are online.
Place your computer or online device in an open area, family room or living room. This discourages any unacceptable searching and allows you to keep an eye on the content your children are exposed to.
Install An Internet Content Filter
A multitude of these filters are available and allow parents different levels of control, from the amount and content downloaded, restrictions to specific sites and even the times the internet is allowed.
Report Inappropriate, Harmful or Criminal Activities Immediately
These activities can be reported to local police and also to www.thinkyouknow.org.au, an internet safety program that also provides training and information to parents and children, as well as an avenue for reporting internet crimes.
By taking an active role in talking with your kids about the internet and interacting with them to provide a safe and rewarding experience, you can help them stay safer online.
The following websites provide more comprehensive information and resources about CyberSafety.