Nowadays most children are online or use the internet in some capacity, with children as young as three years old now using the internet on a daily basis. Whilst this is a result of the technological world we live in, it is not without its problems. In fact, a report from Safe at Last revealed some quite shocking statistics when it comes to children’s internet usage. Did you know:
- A staggering 70% of children encounter sexual or violent content whilst doing their homework online
- 17% of those aged 8-12 have received a message with photos or words that made them uncomfortable. Despite this, only 7% of parents were aware of these messages
- 75% of children would share their personal details online in exchange for goods or services
- 31% of children confessed they would lie about their age to access a website
- 65% of 8-14 year olds have been victims of cyberbullying at some stage
With these figures in mind, it’s understandable that parents should be concerned about their children using the internet. The only problem is, with many parents unaware of the dangers and ease at which young children can access inappropriate content, many aren’t doing enough to monitor what their little ones are doing online.
In order to protect your children, make 2020 the year that you get clued up on the internet and put measures in place to keep them safe. To get you started, Evalian have put together this guide on six ways you can protect your kids online this year. Check it out below.
1. Educate yourself on the dangers of the internet
One of the biggest problems is that many parents grew up before the internet was such an integral part of our everyday lives. As such, they aren’t always knowledgeable about computers, the latest devices or indeed how easy it is to access information on the internet. They may also be unaware of how cybercriminals or other dangerous people operate online.
So in order to be able to effectively educate your kids and keep them safe, it’s a good idea to educate yourself and get a better understanding of the threats the internet poses to children. There are a number of guides out there that you can read and don’t be embarrassed to reach out and ask a tech-savvy friend to enlighten you. The more you know, the better equipped you are to help your children.
2. Teach your child about online safety
Next up, you need to teach your child how to stay safe online. There are some top tips that you can share with your kids and tell them to keep these in mind whenever they’re online. You, of course, don’t have to go into all the darker details, but offering them the following advice can help to keep them alert while they’re browsing and ensure they don’t access any material they aren’t supposed to. Advise your children:
- Not to use chatrooms unless supervised
- Not to talk to strangers
- If they receive any unwanted or inappropriate messages to tell an adult
- Not to upload photos online without your permission
- To under no circumstances agree to meet up with someone they’ve met online
- Not to lie about their age to get access to a website, there’s a reason it’s aged restricted
- If they see any strange pop-ups or something they’re unsure of to speak to an adult
3. Spend time on the internet with your children
This might not work for older children around 10-15 years old as they tend to want more privacy, but spending some time with your younger children online can help them to get a better understanding of how to use the internet. This could mean spending some time in the evenings watching their favourite shows or YouTube channels, helping with their homework or asking them to show you the online games they like to play. As you browse the internet with them you can point out any red flags and teach them how to stay safe online.
4. Put blocks or restrictions on your chosen websites
This is a parents greatest defence when it comes to protecting your child online. Many internet providers and other third-parties have begun creating systems which allow adults to control what their children can access. If you speak to your provider they can set up blocks on age-restricted websites or sites of your choosing, so your children cannot access these.
You can also buy devices that you plug directly into the wall and these act as an interceptor between the Wi-Fi router and your children’s devices. These allow you to block your chosen sites and can be controlled through your smartphone, so you can lift and set the blocks as and when you need to. This can help to give you extra peace of mind, particularly if you’re out of the house and cannot see what your child is doing online.
5. Place computers in common areas
It can be hard to monitor your children’s internet usage, what with them having three different devices all with internet access. But it’s a good idea to put computers or laptops in common areas of the house and make sure this is where they stay. Allowing children to take their devices off to bed or access these out of site means they’re more likely to view content they shouldn’t. Just knowing you’re in the same room can be a great deterrent. It also means you’ll spot if something inappropriate has popped up or appears on their screen.
6. Be careful with social media
Although social media is increasingly common, it’s best not to get your children set up on these sites too young. Sites like Facebook do their best to filter out fake accounts or inappropriate content, but sadly it can’t be avoided completely. These also make your children vulnerable to strangers connecting with them or sending them unwanted messages. Social media has also been linked to a lot of mental health issues and cyberbullying, so be cautious and make your children wait until a more appropriate age where they can better understand how to use these sites safely, before letting them sign up.