We all know the internet can be a scary place. But while most adults know how to stay safe while browsing, kids don’t know about all the dangers hiding behind the click of a button. According to Safeatlast.co, 70% of kids encounter sexual or violent content online while doing homework research. And 65% of 8 to 14-year-olds have been involved in a cyberbullying incident. As a parent, one of your top goals is protecting your kids from danger—and digital danger is no exception. In this article, we’ll go over ways that you can keep kids safe online and protect them from digital threats.
How can you keep kids safe online?
As the world grows more technologically advanced, it can be difficult to keep tabs on your child’s digital footprint. Even social sites like Instagram and Twitter can be locations of cyberbullying, harassment, scams, and more. In fact, many parents have given up on monitoring their kids’ online life—especially when teens these days are so technologically savvy. However, threats such as cybercrime and predators are lurking around every corner online. As such, parents need to keep an eye on what their kids are doing.
Set parental controls
Parental controls (a form of access controls) are tools that allow guardians to set limits on a child’s internet use. Many devices and platforms already have some basic access controls built in (think access settings for Android or iPhone and social sites like YouTube). But you can get a higher level of protection from software specifically designed to filter, limit, and track digital activity. There are lots of great options out there, and one of them is built right into certain CenturyLink modems. Secure WiFi by McAfee provides a powerful parental controls solution for CenturyLink customers who are leasing certain modems. Learn how to set up parental controls on your CenturyLink modem.
Create a family media plan
If you are like many parents, you have concerns about your child’s online activity but aren’t sure how or when to act. Start by considering a family media plan to get the entire family on a healthier path. The American Psychological Association (APA) suggests working together to come up with a family media use plan to create rules around screen time and electronic devices.
Children mimic what adults do, so it’s important to be aware of how much you use your phone or tablet while your 2-year-old watches. The more you are on a device, the more your youngest family members will want to do the same. A family media plan will help your kids learn how to create a digital life balance, setting them up for future success.
Place electronics in common spaces
One easy way to monitor what your kids are doing online is to place computers and tablets in a common area of the house. Do you remember that statistic from earlier? Seventy percent of kids encounter sexual or violent content online while doing homework research. If your child is doing homework in a common area, you’ll be more likely to spot inappropriate content and act on it. Kids will also be less likely to search for inappropriate content if they know you’re able to look over and see their screen.
Help kids choose age-appropriate media
Look at age ratings whenever available and read reviews by other parents. This can help you determine how relevant age-appropriate media ratings are for your kids. Consider not only the most obvious inappropriate content, such as graphic violence or sexually suggestive imagery. Sassy attitudes and arguing between characters can also have a negative effect on young children who imitate what they see.
Use privacy tools to deal with cyberbullying
Sadly, many children will be impacted by cyberbullying despite their parents’ best efforts. You can make the internet a safer place for your child by using tools built into many online platforms. If your child is targeted, show your child how they can block the bully on social media so they can’t be tagged in photos or messaged. Block text messages and calls from any phone numbers associated with the bully and change your child’s phone number if necessary. You should also report cyberbullying to the social media platform. If the bullying escalates to ongoing harassment, you can even report the incidents to your local police department.
You may also want to teach your child about password safety. They should never share their password with anyone—not even a friend. Help them set up a strong password to prevent any hacking attempts by their bully, or any other online threats they may encounter. It’s also a good idea to monitor your child’s online activity closely, particularly when they are under the age of 13.
It’s also important to teach your children how to be kind online, so they aren’t on the other end of cyberbullying. By teaching kids how to stand up for themselves and others, you’re making the internet and the world a safer place for the future.
Help kids build healthy habits online
One of the best ways to keep kids safe online is to simply have a chat about building healthy browsing habits. Have an honest discussion about the dangers of the internet. Explain that the internet isn’t something to fear, but it is important for them to be cautious and mindful of how they use technology. If they come across something that makes them feel uncomfortable or scared, they should come to you first. The first step in building healthy habits is healthy relationships and trust.
If you want more information about staying safe online, check out Back to School Cybersecurity Tips from CenturyLink.