Safeguarding Advice for When Children Start Using the Internet

In this day and age of the Internet, it's more important than ever to ensure that kids stay safe online. Thankfully, there are many things you can do to keep your child safe online. Here are five tips for when children start using the internet.

In this day and age of the Internet, it’s more important than ever to ensure that kids stay safe online. While the Internet is a helpful resource in searching for valuable information, parents must be aware of the safeguarding advice for children starting to use the Internet. There are numerous risks for kids online, and those new to the cyber world are highly vulnerable. Thankfully, there are many things you can do to keep your child safe online.

1. Use Parental Controls 

Parental controls allow you to block and filter inappropriate content on your child’s device. With parental controls, you can limit your child’s access to threats and information beyond their ability to understand. Having a robust parental control system on your child’s device is essential. It is the tool that all parents need to be familiar with in this digital age. 

You can implement Parental controls within search engines, ISP (Internet Service Providers), video streaming sites, applications, etc. It allows you to block or control the games your child can access. In addition, parental controls let you filter web browsers and will only display pre-approved websites. You can also use it to manage the settings of the search engines to filter what your child can search and read online. 

You can manage parental controls through the operating systems of your computer. All operating systems have parental control settings to help ensure that your child remains safe the minute they start using their devices. You can also manage parental controls through search engines, browsers, video streaming, gaming, etc. Combined with privacy settings, parental controls are the most effective tools to protect your child from cyber threats.

2. Establish Boundaries 

Establish clear boundaries in your children’s online activities the same way you set boundaries in other areas of their lives. Draft a family agreement about your expectations of their online activities and technology use. You should also agree about how long they are supposed to be online, which websites and games they are allowed to access, and what they must do if they come across something threatening or upsetting.

When establishing boundaries on your child’s internet use, identify the consequences they could face if they will not abide by the contract. Make sure everyone understands it, and have them read and sign the document. Display it somewhere visible to them, such as on their study table, fridge door, or message board. 

As a parent, you must be aware of the latest in the digital world, such as which apps and games are trending. You should know how these things work. Be updated about unsafe apps or websites that can put your child at risk of cyberbullying or online predators. You must also set boundaries on your child’s social media use. Educate them about what they should not post online, such as personal information, ID, addresses, etc.

3. Stay Informed 

One way parents can protect their children from online threats is to stay up to speed with the latest in the digital world. You do not need to be tech-savvy, but you should be aware of your child’s online activities. Taking up safeguarding training online can also help in knowing what you can do as parents to protect your child and how to deal with online safeguarding. 

Prevention is always better than cure, which is also applicable when monitoring your child’s online activities. After all, preventing your kids from possible exposure to inappropriate content is the same as instilling good morals. So, no matter how busy you can be, always be in the know of the latest technology. Find out what’s trending in social media and be knowledgeable about the latest games, apps, etc. Be aware of the latest trend that can expose your child to internet predators, cyberbullying, and abuse.

It’s not enough that you teach your kids about Internet safety – you must set a good example for them. Follow the same rules you have imposed, such as setting a time limit on your Internet use and being careful of what you post online.

4. Limit Screen Time 

Excessive screen time could put your child at risk for numerous health issues, such as anxiety, depression, obesity, etc. It can also harm your child’s quality of sleep. What’s even worse is that it can significantly affect your child’s brain functioning. Thus, one way to keep your child safe is to limit their screen time.

You must establish clear rules and limit your child’s screen use. For instance, you can implement a rule that they can only spend an hour using social media like Facebook or Youtube and only after they finish their homework. Also, try to limit their time playing their favourite games, which can be addicting for most kids. For instance, you can establish a rule allowing them to play only on weekends. You can use parental controls to limit your child’s access to certain websites or apps. 

Try not to be tempted and give in to your child when they beg for more time to use social media or play their favourite games. Be firm and consistent and make them understand that you are doing it for their safety. Introduce other activities, such as board games, to keep them away from the screen.

5. Always be Open to Talk  

Open discussion is one of the most effective ways to get involved in your child’s online activities. Maintain an open dialogue with your kids and encourage them to open up to you about which websites they access online and the type of content they access. 

Talking about internet use with your child can be daunting and awkward but remember that you’re the best person your child can talk to. Teach them about appropriate online behaviour and how they can stay safe online. Ask your child who they usually talk to online, which is especially important if they use social media to chat with friends. Tell them not to talk to strangers and teach them how to block people they don’t know.

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