The internet can be a powerful learning tool, but at the same time it can be a dangerous place for children to hang out.
We all tell our children not to talk to strangers and not to take sweets from someone they don’t know, but what about their safety online? How stringent are you to make sure they surf safely?
The first steps
How do you go about educating them on internet safety?
The first step is to talk to them. Make sure they understand what they can and can’t view online. This should be done as soon as they start to use the internet and should be reiterated regularly.
Initially, especially with younger children, it is wise to sit with them when they are using the internet. This is a good opportunity to talk to them about online dangers and so they understand early on, their boundaries.
That’s all well and good with younger children, but what happens when they are older?
Many secondary (and even primary) school children will know more about the inner workings of computers and the internet than you. Also, by this time, many children have reached the stage in life when they start to push the boundaries you set.
How can you make sure they are only using suitable websites?
Again, you could set the rule that you are with them when they use the internet, but this is likely to become less feasible the older they get. You will want to start to trust your child’s judgement and they will certainly not want you watching over their shoulder on a regular basis. So it may be time for the next step.
Your ISP will probably offer some sort of parental controls, limiting the range of websites your children can access, should they decide to push the boundaries.
To go a step further, you could also use internet monitoring software, although teenagers will probably resent this as it implies a lack of trust. But, you have to weigh up their reaction with the dangers they may face.
Talking is good
Earlier we mentioned talking to your children and setting clear guidelines on internet usage. This is essential because you must remember that your children won’t just be accessing the internet at home.
Away from home, and the parental controls you have installed, they can gain access through smartphones, internet cafes and at friends houses.
Therefore it is essential you instil within them safe internet usage.