Children these days start using the Internet at a very young age but lack the necessary knowledge they need about online privacy, and they don’t understand the consequences of their actions.
As children grow, they engage with the Internet world even more. This is why parents need to step in and offer guidance towards safe online behavior. Many parents find this task rather challenging since they aren’t sure what to tell, how and when. However sticking to these few easy guidelines can be huge help.
1. Start Discussing Online Safety Early
You should introduce the principles of online safety to your children as soon as they start doing anything that involves Internet usage. Even if their online experience is still limited to playing games on your tablet or watching cartoons on YouTube, it’s a good idea to start explaining what is safe, and what is not.
Tell them not to be shy if they have any worries or questions, and that they should always consult with you before installing new games or providing their information to any website or person on the internet.
2. Explain The Importance Of Safe Online Behavior
You can start by drawing a parallel between the virtual and actual world, stressing the fact that there are good and bad people in both of them – and that good people can sometimes do bad things.
While some parents think that inappropriate content is the only topic they need to discuss with their children, there are actually way more things that are equally important. For example, you as a parent should explain to your child that it is extremely dangerous to share their personal information with people they don’t know, as well as to click on links or download any applications without asking you first.
If your child is old enough to understand, tell them that nothing they do online is private and that the information they share can stay there forever. It is also good practice to share the latest news about identity thefts, malware attacks and other dangers that your child might face online to help them understand that cyber threats are real.
3. Be A Good Role Model For Your Child
Do you often share your holiday photos on Instagram? Have you ever posted your child’s picture together with additional information, such as name or birth date on Facebook? How many times a day do you check your phone?
These are only a few of the many questions you need to ask yourself before teaching your kids the basic principles of online safety. Be aware that your behavior has a direct impact on the way your children perceive social media. For these reasons it’s important for you to act responsibly online and set the right example for your children to follow.
4. Teach Your Child To Be Smart About Social Media And Texting
As teenagers spend more and more time on social media, it is extremely important to teach them to be smart about their actions there. Explain to your child what ‘personal’ means. Make sure your children accept friend requests and only talk to people they know, like and trust. Also make a list of things they should never share with other people, such as user names and passwords, their home address, Social Security numbers, etc. The same goes for using Instant Messaging platforms such as WhatsApp or Messenger – children need to realize that their conversations are never 100% private, and to understand the possible implications of that.
Popular social media services such as Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram allow you to manage privacy settings. If your child already has an account, set up the highest possible privacy settings together to make sure their profile can only be seen by people they know.
5. Create Strong Passwords Together
Children these days start creating their own social media and email accounts at a young age. Therefore, explaining the importance of using strong and unique passwords is a must.
Tell them not to use their name in a password and show them what a good password looks like: use a random mix of lower-case and capital letters, numbers, and special symbols. Highlight the importance of not sharing their passwords with anyone.
If you’re wondering how your children are supposed to remember passwords like this, they’re not – that’s what a password manager like Lastpass is for. With Lastpass you only need to remember your user name and password for Lastpass itself. This saves passwords you could never remember from having to be recorded in a spreadsheet or on a piece of paper that can be lost or accessed without authorisation (it’s magic!).
6. Explain The Risks Of Using Free Public Wi-Fi
Who doesn’t love public Wi-Fi? It’s usually free, it’s fast, and it’s everywhere. However these networks are often poorly secured, so connecting to a free Wi-Fi hotspot provided at a cafe or a shopping mall for any purpose other than innocently surfing the web can put your child in serious trouble.
Explain to your child to be especially careful when using public Wi-Fi, or even better – protect their smartphones with a VPN. It will secure your child’s communications with strong encryption so that no snoopers or hackers can track their online activities. NordVPN, which is one of the most user-friendly VPNs on the market, can be used on six different devices so you can protect your whole family with one account. All you have to do is press one button – and your Internet traffic is protected.
Stay Involved In Your Children’s Online Safety
Children today are more tech-savvy than we were at their age. But while kids are eager to explore the digital world and often have no fear, they are extremely vulnerable to countless threats lurking out there. Online safety is a huge issue and it’s only getting more and more challenging. If you’re not careful you can easily fall victim to identity theft or get malicious software installed on your device, very often without even realizing what’s happened. This is why your children need your help!
If you haven’t yet discussed online safety with your child, now is the perfect time to do just that.