These days it is not easy for us to accept that our children can wander the streets, go to a mall or even visit their friends without supervision. We are so accustomed to knowing where our kids are all the time with the increasing use of smartphones and while these devices come in handy to keep your children safe and in constant contact with you, technology can also expose them to dangers online too. No parent can monitor their child round the clock and many parents are tempted to take the easy way and entirely block online access to the children.
The generation today is more tech savvy than it ever was and we know how fast technology evolves having grown up with it. Our children are experts on the know-how of electronics and even with all their technical knowledge they are not old enough to have the experience necessary to keep them safe from online predators and other dangers lurking behind the screens.
The internet is no-doubt a valuable tool and is an integral part in our lives, which means blocking their access to it will only end up in making them lack in one of the most important knowledge to have in the present day. What will help them though is that we assist them in navigating safely.
Almost half of the children between the ages 12-15 and ¼ of children aged 8-11 own smartphones today. In the last couple of years tablet ownership of children as young as 3 years has also doubled in number. There are over 1.6 million apps that exist for mobile devices, so some general guidelines that you can follow to keep your child safe online are crucial.
Children are more accustomed to using social media network and smartphone apps for chatting and sharing multimedia content than using a mailing system. You child is most probably using Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram, Kick or networks like Ask.fm. The more your child reveals about their life on these sites, the more your house loses its protective walls of privacy and this will give plenty and more information to strangers of doubtful motives. Their daily habits and locations can be easily traced from their daily posts, pictures and location marks. This is where the problem arises.
Guidelines for the parents:
- Safety tools – Set up the device that your child uses with safety tools, many devices already come equipped with safety options that lets parents to set codes, passwords and other restrictions to particular apps and content.
- Set the ground Rules – You should talk to your children about how to use a device and communicate with them the family’s rules for being online.
- Clocking Out – Many children’s apps also come with time restrictions that will allow shutting down the device at a time that is set by you.
- External Software Help – parental Control software is available commercially that gives parents access to call history, texts, e-mails, GPS and more.
- Monitor the Usage – Most dangers pounce when children use the device without supervision, so keep them in a family zone (preferably in the living room or Hall). You can set boundaries just like in the physical world-What activities are okay, who are safe for them to talk with etc.
Some tips for the youngsters:
- Don’t post personal information like your mobile number or e-mail address on Social Media.
- Be careful and think twice before you post a photograph or video of yourself or friends because once it is out there, it is no longer just yours. It can be copied and used by others.
- Make sure your privacy settings are updated, don’t let strangers see your photos or videos.
- Only use the Internet when you are around trusted adults.
- Never ever share your password with your friends or strangers.
- Not everyone is honest. People may not be who they claim to be.
- Only add people who you already know to your network, don’t add friends you don’t know offline.
- Don’t meet people in person who you only know offline. Inform your parent if somebody suggests a meet up.
- Be polite; respect other people’s opinions even if you do not agree with them.
- If you see something online that makes you worried, uncomfortable or unsafe-leave the site immediately. Shut down your device and talk to your parent or a trusted adult immediately.