The internet has become a staple feature in our children’s lives. It’s a great educational tool, a way to stay in touch with distant friends and relatives, and a lifesaver for keeping them entertained on long car journeys (no more three-hour-long games of I-spy to contend with). Despite all these benefits, the internet carries many risks. Parents are able to have some control through the use of parental locking systems, however, it’s important that children have an awareness of internet safety to ensure they avoid potential threats or inappropriate material that the online filters may miss. Take a look at these top online safety tips from a prep school in Middlesex.
If your 10-year-old asked if they could play out, you wouldn’t open the front door, wave them off and say “see you when I see you!” You would drip-feed them independence, making sure they understand the rules of where they can go. Gradually allowing them more freedom the older they become. Time on the internet should follow the same format. With children being allowed more online independence the more mature and savvy they get. Make sure children know the specific parts of the internet they are allowed to access. Be clear that anything outside of this should be discussed first.
TAKE AN INTEREST
It’s difficult to ensure your child is safe online if you don’t actually know what it is they’re doing. Talk to them about their online activity. In the same way, you would talk to them about their day at school. Make it clear they can talk to you about anything they don’t understand or that makes them feel uncomfortable. By opening up a natural dialogue about their internet use, you will be able to spot any areas of concern and deal with them promptly. Build their trust and let them know they can come to you at any time and won’t be in trouble.
TALK ABOUT THE RISKS
Although it may seem scary for children to learn about the darker side of the internet, the benefits of their understanding of certain threats are important. Make sure your child is fully aware of the risks associated with internet use. Much like you would discuss real-life stranger danger, make sure they understand that predators also use the internet to gain access to children. Talk about online bullying! Make sure they know to speak up if this happens. Explain how scammers operate and that it’s important to never open a message or follow a link sent by someone they don’t know. The more information they have, the more equipped they are to make safe choices online.