Guide: 12 Tips to Keep Children Safe Online
Since several schools were still closed for around a year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, young children were subjected to a lot of screen time. How can it be regulated and still include children?
With the home work-study idea nearly a year old, parents need to find new and creative ways of capturing the attention of their infant. The simple way out of this scenario is to view the time on platforms such as Youtube, Netflix, or Disney on Hotstar to keep children occupied while their parents work.
As parents, we usually do our utmost to keep our children safe and healthy, from getting them to ‘slip, slope or slap’ before they go out in the sun, being vigilant when crossing a road, and always wear a helmet when biking. But what do you do to protect them online from bullies, predators, and inappropriate content?
Take it, we’re here to stay, and with 89 percent of Indian teens online three times or more every day (and this is growing with more and more teens getting smartphones), it is time, if you haven’t already, to add cybersecurity expertise to your package.
However, we should keep children interested in this new standard, in which we live whilst reducing the screen time and keeping them busy and efficient.
Chat about your child’s online behavior freely
As soon as your child begins Internet access, talk to them about what they learn, see and connect with online – and keep the conversation going as they get older. Ask your child what places or apps he or she visits, write a list, and view. Talk to your child about what you think is acceptable and warn them that other parents and their children should differ.
Listen to your child and compromise on what’s best for your family. Know when they enter the internet beyond the home’s security and you want them ready for that.
It is also important to educate you about your image online and how you need to be mindful about how you behave, communicate with people, and act in such a public forum. You must bear in mind that the internet is not private.
Place computers in the house’s common area
Don’t let children in their bedroom use computers but instead aim to keep them in shared areas such as the living or dining room. The presence of an adult in the room also prevents a child from accessing forbidden websites, since they are confused about what you can and cannot see.
It is also necessary to tell your children to quit the computer when they are finished. You can be sure that they don’t waste any extra time unattended browsing the internet.
Keeping your kid’s privacy – See what they are doing
Often track the time of your child online, particularly younger children. Hold your screen in the middle of your home where it’s easy to watch what your child does and views online. You can configure them for mobile devices to miss Wi-Fi passcodes so your kids can’t go online without knowing it. You can also try to accept that no tablets, laptops, or games are available in your bedrooms.
You might also recommend testing browsing history for smaller children after your child has been online to see which places they visit. This method obviously gets harder as children get older and learn to explain stories – which is more justification to open the communication lines on Internet usage early in life
Know your parental inspections
Innocent online searches can lead to non-so innocent results and it is therefore prudent to know how to use Web-browsers, the Internet service provider, and devices with parental controls/search restrictions.
For example, Google’s SafeSearch Filters feature blocks sites using explicit sexual content. Go to the Settings/SafeSearch Filters to activate it. Although not 100% effective, parental controls will help avoid the exposure and availability of most violent or pornographic content for your infant.
For information on https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parental_controls. Payment for security software and functionality offers additional safety and power.
Know about your kid’s online friends
We, as adults, realize that certain people online aren’t who they say they are, but children and young people may be alarmingly ignorant about who they talk with unless they learn from an early age to be cyber-sage.
Make sure you become friends and contacts in the social media networks of your child and that you track your messages. Your kids can resist but tell them that it is one of the conditions to give them access.
Set time limits for the screen
Children need guidelines when they use their electronic devices and for what they can and cannot use them.
Guidelines recommend the following:
The screen time should be avoided for children under 18 months
- Children from 18 months to 2 years of age should watch or use high-quality programs or apps with parents, to understand what they see
- Children aged 2-5 should not have more than an hour of screen time a day and adults should watch or play with them
- Children aged 6 and over should have clear time limits on electronic devices and the media they use.
Children might need the homework machine, and this might not be included in their screen time.
Be ‘informed’ to protect your privacy
If your child is a frequent user of social networks, he or she must be aware of the possibility that personal data or photos be released after uploading them. While they do not completely understand the implications of sharing personal information online, you should teach them what they read and upload. Encourage your children to inquire before sharing something if the information is something they send to a stranger (e.g. name, phone number, home address, email, school name) or pictures. Don’t post it if the answer is no.
When your child shares pictures or posts online, ask your child to see what they share or ask the elderly to review photographs before they are shared.
Keep hold of the digital footprint of your family
Any image and personal information shared on social media and the Internet contributes to the digital footprint of someone. The major danger is that when information is exchanged widely, it can be used in ways that you can’t anticipate and manage.
You can also believe that everything online is permanent (it can sometimes be deleted but not always before others have seen it and saved it). This is why children and young people need to be intelligent in protecting their images and records. The same applies to parents who share photographs of their children regularly online.
Teach your child to maintain ownership of its digital footprint by communicating only with people he knows and trusts. Instead of sharing on social media with all their peers, urge them to be selective and use their privacy on social media sites.
Learn to keep your children in private
Many applications, networks, and devices have geotagging features that make your position public and can lead you directly. These features should be disabled for obvious reasons of privacy and security. Digital images also contain metadata (time, date, and GPS coordinate information) that can disclose more than you wish. Some social media sites cover or erase these data automatically, but not all, so do your homework and know how much information you post.
Keep track of time online
Children between the ages of five and 17 should not more than two hours of screen time a day be recommended under the Australian Physical Activity and Sedentary Behavior guidelines. It is therefore important to track your child’s online time, particularly younger children so that they don’t develop bad habits.
Offer your children a time-limit, say 30 minutes per session, and set the time-limit to quit – make this time of non-negotiation. You can also turn off your home Wi-Fi every night at a certain time (ideally before bedtime), so everyone has a timeout. You may also aim to make several days ‘screen-free’ in your home to allow all to find other ways to be more involved and/or less technologically based.
Learn how to be healthy on social networks, so that you can give your children the best advice. Sign up for your children’s social networks and applications and learn how to use their privacy settings and monitoring processes.
Tell us how you can remain secure in social networks, including talking to a trustworthy individual if you are concerned, and understanding what is bullying online – both as a survivor and as an offender.
If your child is using social networks, make sure you know how to:
- Inadequate and/or hostile reports
- Block somebody
- Keep private information.
Lead by instance
Lead by example and often form the type of positive online actions that your children want to use. When you are online, if you see yourself as careful and respectable, you will most likely follow suit. And, yes, you have to limit your own time on the computer.
Cyberbullying is an unpleasant life fact today and exposure to children can lead to a decline in self-confidence, isolation, and mental health problems.
But how are you sure of it? Let’s begin with what cyberbullying implies — a paragon word to annoy, assault, intimidate, humiliate or threaten someone through digital means, like Facebook, Twitter, chat apps, and forums.
A child could be cyberbullied by offensive texts, embarrassing or distorted images, cruel posts about them, and more.
They may skip school, lose interest in activities, withdraw from school, have mood swings, display depression symptoms, or have sudden secretiveness if physically hardened and these signs may also refer to cyberbullying.
Another red flag could be the closure without notice or clarification of their current social media accounts.
This is a question that must be raised with sensitivity and caution. If you find your child is cyberbullying, it is crucial to report all evidence of this behavior including text messages, screenshots of social media posts, and a diary of incidents to the school — or the legal system if required.
ESET operates a website called saferkidsonline.com with resources and guidance on this subject.
It’s also worth ensuring your own children understand the possible implications of being a cyberbully. They can believe that online accounts mean they are anonymous – an illusion that needs to be dissolved – or that persecuting others online and behaving like a troll would not result in an outer world.
It is no less serious, after all, that bullying is carried out in the playground, school fitness center, or an online forum, and offensive conduct can ultimately affect anything from a school career to potential jobs. Explained clearly, make sure your kids don’t post anything online that their grandmas wouldn’t be able to see.
Below are resources on various cases of cyberbullying that ended up in the courtroom and how various legal systems are now handling prosecutions related to online abuse.
- Michelle Carter: “An involuntary manslaughter conviction turns cyberbullying from tragic to criminal.”
- UK school cyberbullying rates: “It’s the dark side of the modern age.”
- New Jersey: ‘Man pleads guilty to the charge in Rutgers cyberbullying case.”
- Mental health: ‘Cyberbullying had the impact of amplifying symptoms of depression and post-traumatic stress disorder in young people.”
- Michigan: Cyberbullies face “93 days in jail, a maximum fine of $500 or both.”
- Student felonies: “NC students could be given jail time for cyberbullying, attorney says.”
- Amanda Todd: “Accused Dutch man jailed for cyberbullying.”
In the end, you do not wish to make your child fearful or discourage it from experiencing the various educational, social, and other benefits of the Internet, but instead, give it the skills and awareness to exploit and escape dangers.