Most children have had unsupervised access to the internet since the age of 5. The internet is an amazing source of information and communication, with some schools and public institutions now operating entirely online. On the other hand, children can be exposed to bullying, predators, and inappropriate content online, and that’s why many parents worry about making sure their kids are safe online.
Prohibiting your children from using the internet may not be the wisest decision since it could hinder their education. It may also stop kids using their mobile devices, which could place them in even more danger. A useful thing about iPads, laptops, and phones is that they can be tracked, so not only do you have a 24/7 line of communication, you’re also able to know your child’s location in an emergency.
People online can be unpredictable, but the internet itself is full of potential – and as security experts, we believe the internet can be a safe place for everyone.
So from gadget security to cyberbullying, here are:
6 instant tips for keeping kids safe online
Keep personal info limited – Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok bios should be kept to their username only.
Keep privacy settings on – All social media sites include inbuilt privacy settings that allow you to choose who can see what. Perfect for keeping out strangers without alienating close friends.
Turn on SafeSearch mode – SafeSearch allows you to block inappropriate or explicit images from your Google Search results. The SafeSearch filter isn’t 100% accurate, but it helps you avoid most violent and adult content.
Most browsers let you turn on ‘safe browsing.’ Google Chrome’s SafeSearch switch can be turned on as follows:
Open the browser and click on Privacy next to settings (bottom right of the page)
Go to Activity Controls
Scroll all the way to the bottom and click ‘Search Settings’
Click the ‘Turn on SafeSearch’ box’
Secure your router from cyber-criminals – Check the back of your Wi-Fi router, it should say WPA2. Recent routers will already be using WPA2 as standard security. WPA, or worse, WEP, could leave your child open to eavesdroppers and criminals out to steal their data.
Introduce them to a VPN – A VPN is the ultimate online security tool. It will deter cyber-threats by hiding your online searches and encrypting anything that is sent over the internet. NordVPN allows up to 6 connections, so you can protect your child’s every device instantly.
Choose strong passwords – A password is the gatekeeper between safety and getting hacked. Supercomputers and even standard laptops can penetrate millions of passwords per second through a casual brute force attack. Choose a mixture of upper and lower case letters, special characters, and non-dictionary words. Try an acronym for a favorite film, book, or quote.
Tips for kids: It’s a jungle out there, so be the lion
Think twice before you share – Think long-term and try not to get excited in the moment. Because once something is online, it pretty much stays there. Strangers may find it, people may save it to their phones, and your private moments could end up going viral – and not in a good way.
Don’t meet people you’ve met online – it’s just not worth the risk. We’ve all seen shows like ‘To Catch a Predator,’ and the most heartbreaking thing is how long the show has been going – 15 years, so predators aren’t slowing down any time soon.
Check your privacy settings and use a password generator strong passwords – Only people you know in person should be able to view your accounts and profiles. Remember how invasive and dangerous it is having millions of strangers following your every move. They can find out who your friends are, what your location is, who your family are etc. etc. For proof, just watch an episode of MTV’s Catfish, we beg you.
Talk about it – Don’t suffer in silence. Bullying is abuse, whether it happens online, at school, or at work – bullying even affects adults. Tell someone from your family, the school nurse, or a friend. Cyberbullies will make you feel isolated and alone to stop you from exposing them. They will make you doubt your feelings until you feel that you’re just overreacting, but trust yourself and your right to happiness by telling someone — even if it’s a casual conversation about how you’re feeling. Text any of these numbers if you feel better speaking to someone who doesn’t know you.
So is the internet safe for children?
The internet is simply a microcosm of the world, a digital space run by us. There are dangers in both worlds, good guys and bad guys, life-changing knowledge and undignified content. The trouble is, we teach our children all about road safety and stranger-danger but then send them out into the online world totally naive. These tips block out the negatives by equipping kids with the skills and savvy to stay safe online.
How do I talk to my child about the internet?
Start the conversation early, introduce them to the internet with rules and limits attached so that they’re aware of the potential exposure to harmful content. Be honest and use analogies to describe what can happen should they encounter a stranger asking to meet, or have someone bully them online.
or at the table, be sure you follow the same suit. That way. you introduce harmony, equality, and respect into the home, rather than dogma.