We both spend a lot of our time online, and indeed it’s part of our professional jobs and indeed managing and maintaining this blog. Despite this, the internet is something we try to limit Lewis’s access to, and seeing as how he is only two, this is a fairly easy task at present.
It is however something we expect him to be using in the not so distant future and it’s not something we would want to discourage him from using, however we would always want to ensure he’s safe online. This got us thinking about keeping kids safe online, and here are some of our thoughts.
With the rise of the digital world, we’re constantly hearing about how the internet can pose a threat to our kids and how it’s going to be a difficult place to police especially with all the content out there that could potentially be damaging to our children.
However, the truth is that the internet is a secure place and there are plenty of countermeasures that we have access to such as parental controls that can restrict the types of websites that our kids visit.
Of course, these filters are all driven by actual people so they can’t catch everything, but our kids aren’t actually as tech-savvy as you might think.
There are plenty of tools to protect your kids
Whether it’s software like firewalls and antivirus programs or an effective identity verification service that helps your child log into secure networks and websites, there are actually many tools that can help you keep your child safe.
For instance, there are parental controls that can be used by virtually any type of device. They have a range of options that include removing features at certain times, blocking certain types of websites or even giving you a complete log of the websites that your kids are browsing.
While these tools can seem a little intrusive, they’re a great way to ensure that your kids aren’t browsing any questionable websites. Web providers allow users to have so much more control today, and while there are always some sites that can sleep through the net, ensuring you have the right parental controls and internet shields in place is a good starting point.
They know as much about the internet as you
One thing that can often help to reassure parents is that our kids aren’t as tech savvy as we think. While they’ve been brought up with technology as a norm, they’re also not exposed to it as much as you’d think.
There are plenty of kids out there that are just as clueless about the internet as their parents, but if they’re exposed enough then they’ll start to learn more about the internet, the potential dangers and how to avoid them. So share your experiences with your kids and be sure to highlight any dangers.
For example, most of us will have gotten a virus on our computer at one time or another. No matter how careful you are or how cautious your browsing is, you’ll eventually be fooled by something that will go through your antivirus and firewall software.
When this happens, you learn from the experience and avoid it in the future, much like many other things in life. Technology really isn’t all that different and there are plenty of ways to learn from the mistakes you’ve made to ensure that you’re always able to avoid those issues in the future.
So to conclude, your kids only know as much about the internet as you do. If you teach them how to avoid questionable things and look out for viruses, they’ll be safe and can keep your computer or laptop out of danger.
Kids can understand when they see predatory behavior
Children are often taught to ignore strangers, but the reality is that anyone on the internet can pose to be anyone. Because of this, it’s not uncommon to see predatory behavior that could affect your children in some way or another.
Someone could claim to be around the same age and they could fool your child into talking to them about topics they feel uncomfortable with, but by teaching your kids how to avoid this behaviour they can understand for themselves when something is dangerous or questionable and should be avoided.
Simply telling them to “avoid strangers” is difficult because the internet is a very sociable place. Your child could post a work of art they’ve made and make friends from it, or they could type in message boards of a video game they enjoy and find other kids to play it with. The internet is a place to be social and simply avoiding strangers doesn’t help them develop a sense of who is and isn’t bad news.
That’s why teaching your kids to understand predatory behavior is a great solution to giving you peace of mind when your kids are browsing the internet alone.
There’s always a point in which a parent needs to decide when they should try to worry less about their kids being in the outside world, and it just so happens that the same moment happens online as well. If your children are more aware of shady behavior and know how to avoid it, then it’s a far better option than simply avoiding strangers altogether.
After all, not everyone on the internet is bad, but there are some nasty individuals that, once your child identifies, will be instantly blocked, ignored and avoided.
Got Something to Add?
Do you have kids and work to keep them safe online? Share your tips with us below.
Until next time, thanks for reading.
Helen, Nial and Lewis.