As children grow up in an ever-evolving digital age, ensuring their safety on the internet is crucial for their well-being. Feb. 6 is Safer Internet Day, but fostering a secure online environment is paramount every day of the year.
Read below for seven tips on maintaining your child’s safety on the internet:
- Establish ground rules: Equip your kids with a set of age-appropriate safety rules that are non-negotiable. They should be aware not to share personal information or photos online, as well as to refrain from following anyone they don’t know. Other data that should remain private includes addresses, birthdays, phone numbers, and even future plans that could entice strangers.
- Set parental controls: Parental control settings can be a helpful baseline for limiting younger audiences from sharing and seeing inappropriate content. Safety tools like Screen Time and Restrictions help you set limits and block in-app purchases. You can also adjust Google Safe Search settings on your chosen browsers.
- Create strong passwords and keep them private: Teach them how to make unique passwords with at least 12 characters. Most people have the same passwords for all their sites, which may seem convenient but poses an issue in terms of secure information. Secure passwords include numbers, symbols, capital and lower-case letters, and should never be obvious dictionary words.
- Have conversations about their online activity: Be transparent about the steps you’re taking to monitor and protect your kids online. Keep the lines of communication open so they feel comfortable telling you about what they’re doing and if problems arise. Showing interest in their online world will build trust and encourage healthy conversations.
- Educate them on their digital footprint: It’s never too early to think about your child’s future. Monitor their posts on social media and explain the potential consequences of sharing controversial and personal information. Discuss appropriate online behavior and the importance of respect and kindness in online spaces.
- Look out for warning signs: Keep an eye out for signs your child might not be following safe practices. If they’re spending long hours online at night, turning off devices when you enter the room, or withdrawing from questions about their habits, it may be time for a serious conversation about who they’re interacting with.
- Practice what you preach: How you interact with your devices makes an impression whether you realize it or not. Model healthy online behavior and take stock of your own digital habits, especially when your kids are present. Being a role model will make it easier to establish a balanced relationship with technology in their lives.
Written by Celia Reid, TDS Communications Intern