Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Ways to Keep Your Child Safe Online

As a mom of four kids who regularly use the internet, safety when using the internet is a very important thing for me. Here's some suggestions from a reader on how to keep your kids safe on the world wide web.

Photo by Roman Samborskyi

Seeing as how most of us are still pretty much on lockdown this summer, your children may wind up spending even more time than normal entertaining themselves online. However, while they might be able to stay safer this way health-wise, there are other dangers that may present themselves in cyberspace.

Rather than just worry and wonder about what your kids could be running into online, there are several things you can do to actively try to keep your kids safer online. They include:

Checking Out Online “Friends”

Not all of the people who are friends with your child on social media or in chat rooms have good intentions. Bullies, trolls, and online predators abound in such places. It’s up to you to keep an eye on these things.

Consider establishing a transparency policy with your child when it comes to social media. While you don’t want to invade your child’s privacy, you should periodically check on the identities of any social media friends who you don’t really know. If it turns out that a contact is an adult stranger, you may have cause to worry…and a very good reason to have your child unfriend them immediately.

Verifying Media Ratings

Take the time to check on the themes and ratings of the video games and movies your children watch online. Video games are rated by the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), ranging from E (everyone) to A (adults only), with explanations for why the game has been rated like it has. Meanwhile, movies are rated by the Classification and Ratings Administration (CARA), also with rating explanations. They range from G (general audiences) to NC-17 (no one under 17).

Teaching Kids About Safety with Technology

There are lots of interactive games and videos out there that are appropriate for children, and that have been developed specifically to help teach kids more about safety in a variety of situations. Children who enjoy video games in general are more likely to react positively to this approach, feel more engaged to the topic, and actually retain the information better.

Kids can learn about cyber safety, taking care of their health, food safety, how to act in case of a fire or medical emergency, and so forth. Simply do a web search for the specific topic, or go directly to YouTube Kids to find a wide variety of child safety-focused content.

Spending Time Together Online

While work and other obligations may keep you from spending as much time with your kids as you’d like, as time permits, try to involve yourself in the technology that your children love. It’s a great way to spend some quality time together with them, while also ensuring their safety online.

The world may feel like an extra-scary place right now, offline and on. But by enacting some or all of the tips outlined here, you can at least take more control over the safety of your child’s online world.