Keeping kids safe online is more challenging than perhaps ever before. What can you do to protect your children online?
Do you have a child that’s old enough to go online? Toddlers are quick to learn how to use phones and tablets, but it’s extremely important to keep them safe when using these devices online. Below are a few helpful tips for parents to maintain digital safety for their children:
1. SUPERVISE ONLINE ACTIVITY
The first and perhaps most important tip for parents is to carefully monitor all online activity of your children. It’s a lot easier said than done, of course. There are times when you simply cannot be in the same room as your child as they use an iPad or mobile phone, and just a few moments alone can be all that it takes for your child to bet put in danger, digitally speaking.
When you cannot directly supervise your child’s online activity, make sure that you set parental controls and adjust privacy settings so that they cannot accidentally stumble upon obscene or graphic content, for example. Even with these precautions, however, it is preferable to be in the vicinity of your children as they browse the internet or engage with social media.
2. BEWARE OF PHISHING AND SCAMS
Phishing is on the rise, with malicious emails being sent on a daily basis to individuals and organisations every single day. 96 per cent of phishing attempts come from emails that may resemble your bank, for example, or another more trusted institution.
Children can easily fall prey to phishing and other online scams, so teach them the legend of the Nigerian prince if you want to give them a history lesson. Although your child should not have easy access to your credit card information, even sharing personal details can lead to identity theft.
3. MANAGE PASSWORDS CAREFULLY
Creating strong and secure private passwords is important for adults, but it’s important to teach your children this as well. We all know that it’s not a good idea (hopefully) not to create a password like “123456” or your last name + “123” for example.
Although many websites and platforms now require strong passwords with unique characters, uppercase and lowercase letters, and so on, teach your children to create strong and unique passwords and to never share the password with anyone.
4. EXERCISE CAUTION WITH SOCIAL MEDIA
Social media today is at best an engaging and interactive place to share content, but at worst it is a toxic place that can lead to depression, low self-esteem, stalking and bullying, and much worse. All social media activity should be carefully monitored by parents, if you must allow your children to use social media at all.
Most social media platforms are age-restricted, but it is quite common nevertheless for underage children to find ways to create TikTok accounts and perhaps be exposed to obscene or graphic content. If your children do use social media, adjust the privacy settings and teach them about the dangers of accepting friend requests, interacting with strangers, and uploading their own content.
5. MINIMISE YOUR CHILD’S DIGITAL FOOTPRINT
Perhaps when you were younger, an embarrassing moment was lost in the echoes of time, only kept alive in memories. Today’s landscape is vastly different. The internet never forgets, and few people are quite as forgiving as you’d like them to be.
Online activity cannot easily be deleted once it’s spread on the internet, so take preventative action by minimising your child’s digital footprint as much as possible. This means that parents should instruct their children on the possible repercussions of uploading content to social media or elsewhere on the internet. Seemingly innocent photos can come back to haunt your children as they get older and enter the labour market, for example.
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