How to keep your child safe online -- 7 Tips!
Created by Sonal Pawar (Kadam) Updated on Sep 13, 2017
At first, when her 13-year old son started showing signs of stress – refusing to eat, chirpy young boy replaced by a sullen teenager, purple bags under his eyes, falling grades in school, Tina chalked it up to regular growing-up angst. But when she heard him sobbing at night under his sheets, she realized it was much, much more serious than regular pre-adolescent changes. The next couple of mornings, Tina gently initiated conversation about school, friends and various other topics, without directly asking her son why he was crying. When a comfort level was reached, he broke down and told her he was being bullied, and even threatened online by someone he had met on a gaming portal. With the help of the cyber police, the issue was resolved, and Tina could breathe a sigh of relief.
While Tina had sorted out one issue for her child, she realized that she needed to make sure her child was safe in the future, from dangers lurking online. This is a common concern for parents of young children, and sometimes it can be too late before a parent finds out that there is an issue.
What Dangers Lie Online For My Child?
There can be or rather there are numerous dangers lurking in the cyber world for your child and as a parent you need to be prepared about those dangers. Here are some of them listed for you and how you can avoid courting them.
- Falling prey to cyber bullying: Sometimes an online game could turn into a nightmare because of cyber bullying. Bullies can take to sending hurtful or threatening messages to a child, or even pass negative comments about them on a chat forum. These predators are also known to cause damage to online reputation
- Sexual predators: A chat room or a video game portal can turn into a platform for exploitation. The predator can lure a child with seemingly harmless messages or by playing on the same team during a game. The next step will be to extract personal information about the child and then use it to exploit him either online or, sometimes, even in person. Webcams increase this risk even further
- Inappropriate content and pornography: Clicking on random links or advertisements that appear in emails or chat messages can be potentially dangerous. Pornographic images and videos could also be accessed by clicking these suspicious links
- Credit card fraud: Many paid gaming portals ask for credit card information as part of the product comes at a charge. This is a potential risk for misuse of your card information, and you might suddenly find yourself with a huge bill you didn't anticipate
How Can I Keep My Child Safe Online?
Although there is much scope for falling prey to these dangers online, you can make sure your child can get the maximum benefit of the internet by following these simple tips. Why lose out on a ton of useful information when you don't have to?
- Be constantly involved: It is quite important for you as a parent to be always involved with your child. But this has to be done so subtly that your child doesn't feel the threat and trusts you. Here's how you can do that—
- Talk to your child regularly about what he uses the internet for. Don't be aggressive, or intrusive. Strike up a conversation about something interesting you read on the internet, and set the platform for the exchange. Your child will be put at ease when he knows you're just sharing, and not probing
- Get online together whenever possible. Ask him to show you how to set up social media accounts, or access an online shopping portal
- Check browser history before you use the internet independently, each time
- Speak about online safety to your child. Explain the consequences of cybercrime to him
- Strong, secure protection for online accounts: Teach your child to create strong passwords according to security guidelines. Tell him the importance of not sharing these passwords with anyone, even his closest friends
- Use good antivirus software: There are several reliable antivirus software packages that allow different levels of parental controls, protect against spam and malicious content among other things
- Exercise control over what content your child views: This can be dicey in case of pre adolescents and adolescents and you need to tread quite carefully. There are parental control applications that you can use to monitor your child's browsing activities. Here's how you can do--
- Several ISP's, as well as devices allow you to set parental controls on content that is viewed. Take charge and proactively filter, so that you have less cause for concern later
- If using a PC, keep it in a location that's in everyone's way at home, so that you can take a quick peak as you walk to and from other rooms. Your child will also be less prone to clicking on suspicious content if the computer is not in an isolated corner of the house
- Have a basic idea of who his online friends are: While you cannot, and need not, keep track of every friend of your child's on Facebook or other social platforms, keep an eye out for any repetitive behavior. If you find that your child is constantly chatting with someone, or sharing pictures, find out more. It could just be a good friend from school, but if it's something of real concern, you need to know.
- House Rules: Set some basic rules and have your child follow them.
- How much time to spend online everyday
- What sites to visit
- Is chatting on social media allowed?
- Whether or not to share personal pictures and videos
- Build trust: Let your child know that you are the first person to come to when she is in trouble. Never threaten to take away privileges if caught doing something. This only builds animosity. She needs to know that you're on her side, and will help her overcome any trouble
The internet allows us to access information about anything with just a click. Educational resources are excellent, and age-appropriate entertainment is never more than a click away. Allow your child to enjoy this privilege by just taking these simple precautions, and your worry about her online safety will reduce considerably.
Have any more tips to share about online safety for kids? Let us know in the comments section, we'd love to hear from you!
| Sep 13, 2017
this blog seems all the more pertinent ,keeping in mind dangerous online games such as blue whale challenges terminating in a suicide ,that today's teens are ready to take up . what makes them take such extreme steps, what is that parents missed out while raising them or what is that they expected in terms of outcome of participating in such games are certain grey areas which need to be explored further. parents need to be alert and cautious, also connect well with their child and monitor their day to day activities.. to ensure their children are safe online .thanks for sharing!
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