Keeping kids safe online is all about helping them adopt responsible online behaviors so they can be safe, productive and creative when browsing the web alone. Here’s what you can do as a parent to help your child adopt those responsible behaviours.
1. Ease into social media
Many parents are nervous about allowing their children to use Facebook. At present, Facebook guidelines state you must be 13 years old to have an account, but many kids much younger want to start using this social media platform.
Ontario-based parenting expert Alyson Schafer recommends one solution to this problem is to create a family Facebook account together. This way, parents can learn about Facebook along side their child in a collaborative way. Families can protect their accounts by only friending family friends and family members. As your child grows up, he or she will be competent in Facebook etiquette and understand how to be safe.
2. Avoid personal information exchange
With just the quick input of a credit card number, thieves can steal your payment card or personal information, and even commit identity theft. Reduce the risk of falling victim to the frauds and scams that run rampant online – make sure your child knows the rules around divulging personal information.
Make it a household rule not to respond to any unsolicited requests for personal information on pop-up windows or ads, and never send your credit card number via email. Other personal information like your phone number, address, etc., should not be divulged unless a parent deems is present.
3. Be aware of cyberbullying
With the use of social media unfortunately comes a higher risk of cyber bulling. This will become greater as your child gains independence on social media sites. Cyber bullying is defined as bullying which involves the use of communication technologies such as the Internet, social networking sites, websites, email, text messaging and instant messaging to repeatedly. It includes:
- Sending threatening messages
- Posting inappropriate photos of someone online without their consent
- Creating content that deliberately makes fun of others
- Assuming someone’s identity online
- Tricking someone into revealing personal information and sending it to others
Cyberbullying is different from traditional forms of bullying in that victims can be affected everywhere 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The impact can be traumatic for kids. If you suspect your child has become a victim of cyber bullying, know what you can do to take action – help them stand up to the cyber bully by taking these stepsrecommended by Get Cyber Safe, a national public awareness campaign led by Public Safety Canada.
4. Rethink parental spyware
Many parents are tempted to install spyware programs that block certain content. However, imposed control tactics will likely not be effective in the long run. They not only heighten the sense of mystery around what is off-limits, and block out your chance to talk about safe web use with your child and teach those lessons which are valuable when you start with younger children.
While it is a smart idea to secure your computer by activating an anti-virus and block spyware software to ensure a safer connection, teaching internet safety doesn’t include parenting spyware.
Head to your local library to see what kinds of programming is available for kids looking to get online. Many library branches have introductory workshops for young bloggers, kids hoping to open an email account, and more. Follow us on Twitter for tweets that promote library programming in Ontario! The more your child is able to learn from the highly savvy web-users, the better.
Don’t get discouraged because you can’t can’t monitor your kids’ web use as easily as you used to be able to. The fact that families are becoming increasingly connected is an opportunity to teach kids how to be digitally responsible.