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Your Essential Guide to Keeping Kids Safe and Entertained Online

Keeping kids safe online is so important. Kids are learning how to use the internet from a very young age, so they need to know how to stay safe to avoid becoming the victim of some kind of attack. This essential guide will help you to safeguard your kids, while making sure they enjoy their experience online at the same time.

Talk to Them While They’re Young

The second your child starts doing anything to do with the computer/internet at home or at school, make sure you talk to them. Be honest with them about the kind of things that go on over the internet, and how you expect them to act. Don’t try to sugarcoat it or leave it until they get older. By then it could be too late. Have the talk with them to make sure you have not only streetwise kids, but webwise kids too.

Discourage Inappropriate Behaviour

Inappropriate behaviour online is common, as people feel as if it isn’t the real world. While it may not quite be the ‘real world’, the things they say and do online can have a big effect on people in the real world. Saying horrible things to somebody is not OK, whether they know them or not. Even if they are messaging a celebrity, there’s no need to be nasty. Would your child be OK with people saying these kinds of things to them online? Try to get them to look at it from another point of view.

Let Your Kids Know They Can Come to You With Questions

If your kids have any questions about the internet or what goes on online, make sure they know they can come to you. Your actions speak louder than words, so you need to remain calm with your child so they feel comfortable enough to confide in you. Flying off the handle will only stop them from coming to you again.

Monitor Their Behaviour

Some parents don’t like to monitor their children’s behaviour, as they consider it ‘spying’. You could simply explain the risks to your child, let them know you’re there if they need you, and leave them to your own devices. However, most parents like to have an idea of what their child is doing while browsing the internet. Now, I’m not saying you should read every message they send to their friends; that would be taking it too far! You could either install software that allows you to see what your child is doing, or only make it possible for them to access the internet when you’re around. Make sure they know that if they feel uncomfortable with somebody watching what they’re doing, it’s probably not OK.

Befriend Them on Social Media

Social media sites can be a scary place for kids. Instagram and Facebook are very popular with youngsters, but make a rule that you must be friends with them on it for them to use it. This way, you can see what they’re posting and who they’re friends with. Let them know that everything they post online should be considered permanent, even if it looks as if you can delete it. Bad things posted on the internet will nearly always come back and bite the person who wrote it. Make sure they know that if they don’t want you to read it, it probably means they shouldn’t be writing it.

Give Them Ideas on Trusted Sites

Give your child a list of sites that they can use you know are trustworthy, so they’re safe from viruses and hackers. They could race online at 39games, for instance. You could also inform them on how to spot dodgy sites by themselves, so they avoid having their computers and accounts hacked.

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Teach Them the Importance of Good Passwords

Good passwords are essential. If one of your child’s accounts were hacked, this could lead to somebody posting things under their name that they have no control over. They could get in a lot of trouble, and even lose friends over it. A hacker might even run up a huge bill for games, apps, and other things depending on the account. Make sure your child knows all about what makes a good password, and that most of their passwords should be different on different platforms. Ensure they know not to give their password to anybody, not even their closest friends!

Cyberbullying

As previously mentioned, cyberbullying can have a huge effect on the victim. You should let your child know how wrong it is to cyber bully somebody, as well as how important it is to speak out if they are getting cyber bullied. The best way to handle a cyberbully is to ignore all threats and messages. Simply keep a log of these just in case you need to take things further by contacting the police.

Block Anywhere You Don’t Want Your Child to Go

One effective option when keeping your children safe online is blocking anywhere you don’t want them to go. You could block specific sites, or simply make sure your settings are suitable for your child to browse freely. Ideally, your computer should filter things that aren’t appropriate for little eyes to see. You can’t protect them from these things forever though, so it’s important that you speak to them about issues too, rather than just blocking them.

Keep an Eye Out for Warning Signs

You never know what might be affecting your child online, so make sure you keep an eye out for warning signs that something is going on. They might be changing what they’re viewing when you come into the room. They might appear sad, withdrawn, and not themselves. Make sure you notice changes in your child and take steps necessary to find out what’s going on before it’s too late.

With these tips, your child will love using the internet, but you’ll know that they are always safe. Make sure you’re vigilant so that your child doesn’t become another horror story. See you next time!

Photo: Intel Free Press

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