Parenthood

How to protect your kids online

Don’t avoid going online because of fear, follow these actionable tips from absolute mama to keep your kids safe online. Read more here.
By Taryn Dekel

EDUCATE YOURSELF
The first step to protecting your children online is to educate yourself. While you might be used to calling on someone more tech savvy than yourself, you’ll have to do a little digging and become more knowledgeable about the ins and outs of internet settings to protect your family. Being proactive is one of the best ways to avoid uncomfortable and dangerous situations. While your children might be technologically advantaged, they often lack the emotional maturity to evaluate risk.

SAFETY FOR TINY TOTS
With younger children you have the advantage, you get to control their online activity completely by either limiting it or limiting their access. Choose between allowing usage with supervision only, restrict their access or purchase a device specifically aimed at young children which automatically limits access. Downloading a toddler app with
password control is another great way to control access, without the password the child stays in the app only until you disable it.

SAFETY FOR TWEENS AND TEENAGERS
Here’s where things get a little tricky. Very often our kids are smarter than us when it comes to technology, so we
must think outside the box when trying to keep them safe from harm. Besides the curious nature of those
wanting to discover their sexuality via pornography, we also must factor in online predators who are using fake
identities to lure children in or to get hold of personal information.
First and foremost, have an open dialogue with your children about their activity online. You can put every measure in place, but if you do not have an open line of communication, this could lead to your child endangering their physical or emotional safety and being too afraid to talk to you about it.
Children between the ages of 10 to 15 can make use of a ‘family computer’ set up in a public space where privacy
is limited. While your child might argue for their right to privacy, stick to your guns for your peace of mind. For older teens, help them understand privacy. They can still participate actively on social media, but they should not treat it as an ‘online journal’. Show them how to be selective about the types of images and content they share online. Follow your child on social media and address any issues with them in private.
Embarrassing them online with a ‘mom comment’ might just lead to them creating a duplicate profile that you’re unaware of.
Avoid the ‘check-in’ option as these posts are public and can be used to track users online. Caution your children to delete or block anyone that ridicules them or makes them feel uncomfortable. The internet is a breeding ground for keyboard warriors and online trolls who can wreak havoc on self-esteem. Teaching strong self-confidence skills goes a long way with cyberbullies, who often just stir up trouble for a reaction or ‘likes’.


REAP THE BENEFITS WITHOUT COMPROMISING ON SAFETY
These tips and tricks will protect your children while allowing them to reap the benefits of technology. The internet is a great maze of useful
resources for school research, learning, entertainment and staying
connected to family and friends. You can safely do all of this without compromising on the safety of your family.

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