As a parent, I’ve taught my children to be wary of strangers, to never go into a car or someone’s residence without my permission and to run into a store if they felt they were being followed. Stranger danger is real.
According to dictionary.com, a stranger is
“a person who is not a member of the family, group, community, or the like, as a visitor or guest.”
To children, the web and social media can be seen as a group or community; as a result, many children do not view those they meet online as strangers. They are Friends and Followers, people with whom they share their daily musings, photos and videos. Yet, in reality, they are strangers.
According to Gai Havkin, kids’ internet safety expert and CEO of KIDO’Z, there are a few simple steps that parents can take to protect children on the net. Below he provided 10 tips to help parents protect children online.
1. Educate children about unsavory content. Teach your children about things on the Internet that concern you, such as pornographic sites and violent content. Alert them to notify you immediately when they encounter inappropriate content.
2. Remind children not to talk to strangers online. Develop clear user guidelines for your children. Make sure they understand to never share personal information (passwords, account information, address, phone numbers, photographs, videos etc.) with people online.
3. Take advantage of parental controls on Internet browser. Internet Explorer, Safari, Google Chrome, and Mozilla Firefox all have parental controls. These controls can help provide a layer that blocks access to areas of the Internet that parents may deem undesirable for their children to be exposed to.
4. Purchase anti-virus software. Protect you and your child from malware, viruses, and other security threats. When comparing software, make sure you select one that includes parent controls, which can block access to objectionable sites and prevent children from disclosing personal information.
5. Regulate kids’ screen time. Implement time limits on your child’s Internet access. Do not permit your child to get to the point where they are spending an inordinate amount of time with their iPad or television, in comparison to other physical, social, and family activities.
6. Discuss Internet safety rules with other parents. To ensure your child remains protected from unsavory Internet content outside of the home, talk to the parents of your child’s friends and find out whether the children will be monitored while online.
7. Establish a physical space for technology use. Decide upon an open place in the house, such as the living room, where your child is allowed to use mobile devices. Keep computers and other devices out of a child’s bedroom. This will deter children from exploring certain areas of the Internet and make monitoring easier.
8. Monitor where kids go online. It might not be possible to be present whenever your children are online, but it is possible to check later to see where they have spent their time. By reviewing the History list in your Internet browser, you can see the sites your child visited while online and ensure they are not viewing inappropriate material.
9. Tell children to ask you before installing or downloading new content. New software and games on the Internet can expose your computer to viruses—and your child to inappropriate ad content. Make sure your child asks permission before clicking the download button.
10. Interact with your child as they use technology. At least twice a week, when your child is on the computer or tablet, pull up a chair and sit down beside them. Encourage your child to use the Internet to plan an offline family activity or pick what to make for dinner.
At Latina On a Mission, we want to thank Gai Havkin for providing us with the above information. Given that almost 30% of parents let their kids use the internet without any restrictions or supervision, we want to make sure that you’re part of the nearly 70% that does. Our children are just too precious and valuable to do otherwise.
Let’s talk! Have you discussed online safety with your children? How did you broach the topic?