In this brand new age of technology, kids are being introduced to the internet earlier and earlier. Though this might feel daunting, there are plenty of positives showing tech to children brings. For starters, academic institutions and occupations are more integrated with technology than ever, making it essential for young people to learn the ropes as soon as possible. Kids with access to computers and tablets can quickly adopt critical skills like typing, troubleshooting, and tech navigation.
For parents, there are definite concerns that premature technology use invokes. The daunting thing about the internet is that it provides endless information, whether the user is looking for it or not. Since the beginning of installing internet in the home, parents have been worried about their children stumbling upon the wrong sites.
Lucky for parents, in 2024, tech companies globally invest more in security services and controls to monitor kids’ viewing. If internet safety is important to you and your family, here is a tremendous guide on keeping kids protected while on the computer.
Staying Up-To-Date With Your Kid’s Online Activities
As your kid grows up, you may learn sooner rather than later that your child might be more educated about the internet than you. They often know the newest games, memes, language, and websites, which could leave you feeling confused or apprehensive. But don’t be afraid of what the internet has to hold; staying up-to-date with the changes on the World Wide Web is the best defense for you and your children’s safety.
Understanding the Dangers to Kids Online
The internet is understandably limitless, which means infinite learning opportunities. On the opposing side, parents are understandably nervous about what their kids might discover through a browser. The best defense for keeping kids protected is knowing what sources and subjects must be monitored while young ones are surfing the web.
For young kids, stumbling upon pornographic or violent content is a parent’s worst nightmare. Obscene language and macabre videos are all over the internet, allowing for a potentially dangerous situation if introduced to your children without regulation. Knowing which sites have stricter content policies is imperative to detect possible danger when your kids are on the internet.
Porn sites aren’t the only place where young people might find inappropriate content. Social media sites like Twitter can have pornographic images and content, while other platforms like Instagram cannot. Understanding that mature videos aren’t limited to restricted websites is another facet a parent needs to keep their kids safe. Though your children will be integrated into technology at a young age, you can determine which social media sites they can and can’t use until they reach a certain age.
Set Guidelines for Your Kids
With such boundless opportunities for danger, setting simple, concise guidelines for how your kids should navigate the internet is the first step in protecting their development. Talk to your children about which sites they can use and which sites are for teens or adults. Giving them clear standards will set your kids up for success while also showing them that you, as a parent, have competent knowledge about what’s culturally relevant online.
Writing out or verbalizing clear guidelines is a better strategy than enacting them retroactively. Communicate with your children that these rules may change over age and that some sites won’t be monitored forever. Treating your kids with respect and allowing ultimate transparency will build trust and aid your children in understanding and complying with your parental decisions.
Putting Private Information Online
We, as adults, store plenty of private info on various technologies; attaching an email with bank statements or giving a site your credit card number is a normal part of the 21st century. But children aren’t as discerning regarding which websites should be trusted with your private information.
As an easy rule of thumb, teach your kids early that they should not post their birthdays or addresses on any website they touch. Let your kids know that if private information gets into the wrong hands, that could be a potentially dangerous situation for your family. Again, being transparent and concise about the hazards of internet use will only help set your kids up for success.
Allow Open Dialogue with Kids
There’s nothing scarier for a kid than believing they’ll get in trouble. Though you may be angry about your kids’ missteps while using the internet, let them know early and often that they can always come to you with questions about technology usage. If your children encounter something nefarious, it is essential that they feel safe approaching you with the topic instead of hiding it due to potential repercussions.
Even if your kids follow every guideline, spam, malware, and unknown websites can still cause problems. It’s a great idea to relay to your children that they aren’t disobeying their parents’ guidelines if they encounter any of these sites. Since everyone and anyone can use the powers of the internet, there will always be a possibility that you or your kids will run into something potentially risky.
Physical Internet Safety Precautions
As much as you can tell your children what they can and can’t do on the internet, they might not always obey. Disobedience is a normal part of self-discovery, but it’s your job as a parent to add extra precautionary measures.
Keeping your kids’ computers in the living room or a common area will aid in easy monitoring. This will stop your children from navigating inappropriate websites behind your back and reduce the possibilities for misbehavior. Even with trustworthy children, it’s an excellent start to position the desktop in a place where you can easily step in and offer guidance.
Instead of using Google Chrome or Internet Explorer, it might be a helpful choice to use a kid-friendly browser for optimal and safe searching. KidTopia is a Google search engine that’s custom-made for elementary school children that only displays educator-approved sites. You can set these websites as your homepage so your kids will be immediately directed to them.
Most computers will also include privacy settings that parents can customize. Parental controls on Windows and Macs include time limits, website limitations, and password-blocked applications for securing inappropriate content. Implementing privacy settings is one of the best ways to ensure your kids utilize trusted websites and only see suitable content.