The fast development of various online services has affected the lives of all generations. While grown-ups are aware of the pros and cons the Internet brings, children and young teenagers don’t possess that level of experience.
Since children can also use the Web in many beneficiary ways, it’s important to teach them how to do that with as few risks as possible. Tech-savvy parents will know how to control their children online habits. However, some parents aren’t involved that much in modern technologies and they need help and assistance. If you identify yourself as such a parent, stay with us and read the following tips for keeping your child safe in the online environment.
1) Social Media And Age Restriction
You need to be at least 13 if you want to use Facebook and most other mainstream social media. Still, many young children ignore the restrictions of these networks. Unaware of the negative side that social media can play in their lives, children simply go with the flow. They copy their peers, as well as their parents and develop a strong wish to fit into their social surroundings.
Logically, children will try to dodge the rules and do what seems interesting. This is where parents need to take a firm attitude, but they should also sugarcoat it, so that kids conclude on them own that they actually don’t need social media.
The most efficient strategy here is the one of role model. Simply put, if parents restrict the time they spend online, their kids are most likely to follow suit – at least younger children. Teenagers, on the other hand, most probably won’t care too much about their parents’ social media engagement.
2) Offline Habits In Online Surroundings
If there’s one common things for most parents out there is the warning that they give to their children that they should never talk to strangers. This simple and effective offline tip can perfectly work in online surroundings, as well.
Therefore, when you’re talking to your kid about their behavior outside your home, you should tell them that they should follow the same rules when they’re using their computer. When they’re online, they leave your home, in a way, which is why they should be extremely careful in that environment.
So, when we’re talking about specific age groups, kids aged 6-12 should know that they should never reply to a message they receive on the Web from a stranger. Also, they should be instructed to inform you at once. After that, you’ll decide whether to block that website and call the police.
Further, kids aged 13 and above, who can legally use social media, should report every inappropriate message to you and then you should report the sender to that social network.
3) The Benefits Of Smartphones
An interesting survey conducted by Nielsen in February 2017 showed that 45% of US children aged 10-12 had their own smartphone. For the sake of comparison, in South Korea about 72% of 11- and 12-year-olds owned a mobile at the time of that research.
As we can see, the predominant trend in these two technologically advanced countries is to allow pre-teenagers to have a smartphone. Truth be told, children need to live in accordance with the technology of their age. The children of the 1980s had Atari, the kids of the 1990s had Nintendo and today they have smartphones.
However, parents should impose some simple rules related to the use of the smartphone.
For starters, there needs to be a time limit. For instance, an article published by USA Today suggests that you should allow children under the age of 10 to use your smartphone between 30 and 60 minutes a day. The emphasis is on your smartphone. Only when your child is mentally mature enough should you let them have their own smartphone. While it’s a matter of individual preferences, the threshold of their teen age could be the right moment for that move.
Also, a young child using a mobile should spend most of that time on educational and mind-inspiring content. As opposed to that, only a smaller portion of time should be used for pure fun. For instance, they can play an entertaining game after they’ve finished with some clever online activities. This balance will teach them both how to plan their time and how to use tech devices in a constructive way.
4) Filtering Content On Your Computer
Sooner or later your kid will express a wish to use your computer. This is a legitimate request and they should be allowed to use it, but only under your supervision.
First of all, you should keep your computer in the living room, where everybody can access it. Your kid will be under greater risk of online threats if you buy them a computer of their own and put it in their room. That step should be taken when they become older teenagers.
Now that you’ve placed your computer in the living room, it’s time to activate the parental controls on your browsers. Here you can read how to set the parental controls in Google Chrome.
As opposed to that, you can opt for Internet browsers for kids, which will provide you with the highest possible degree of online safety. The only drawback of these solutions is that more advanced options most often have to be paid.
What’s also important is that other people who look after your kids should be familiar with these safety hacks. So, if a child spends time with their grandparents, they should also learn a bit about these filters. The same goes for live-in nannies and au-pairs. As a matter of fact, one of the main conditions for the latter to chosen to take care of your kids should be their knowledge of modern technologies.
On the other hand, if your parents are older and they’re not interested in modern technologies, your kid can do other things with them.
5) Slow Introduction To Technologies
Children are perfect copycats. In other words, they look up to what we do and imitate that. That’s why you should do your best to use modern technologies in a smart and educational way. If your kid sees that you have a life outside your smartphone and your computer, they’ll be more likely to copy that lifestyle.
Apart from setting your own online habits as a role model for your kid, you should also apply positive parenting when it comes to the online environment. If you present the Internet as something dangerous or forbidden, your kids will be eager to see why you’re saying that.
Kids are extremely curious and this is exactly what can put them in danger when they’re online. Your role is to streamline that curiosity towards imaginative, engaging and creating content, while taking all the precautions to prevent your kids to be exposed to any inappropriate content. By introducing them slowly to the technologies that will be inevitable in their lives, you’ll teach them how to make those high-tech features work for them while ignoring the negative sides of the Web.
The Internet and modern technologies will play a major role in the lives of present-day children. As their tutors and instructors, our role is to ensure safe conditions for their baby steps in the world of online technologies. By setting an example how to use the Web for education and occasional entertainment, we’ll give them a proper introduction into modern technologies. If they learn how to safely use the Internet from young age, our kids will get ready for the tech-governed world and make it work for them.
About The Author
Anne Harris is an HR specialist working for londongoverness.com. She recruits nannies, governesses and other childcare professionals, ensuring top-notch services for parents worldwide. In her free time she likes reading about education, and children’s welfare, as well as visiting sports events.
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Also published on Medium.