How can you make the internet safe for kids?
The short answer is you can’t, but as a parent what you can do is put safeguards in place to make sure they’re as safe as they possibly can be.
Our three love nothing more than finding the latest unboxing videos on YouTube either through our TV or on their tablets, and they also like going online to find the latest episodes of their favourite games and shows too.
We have a family subscription with Amazon, meaning I can set time limits on their usage and ensure they only have access to age appropriate content, but even so, what they might inadvertently come across is a constant source of worry.
The older two have online safety lessons at school which is great, and as the internet grows up so too does the tech (Jumio’s Net Verify is one example of the safeguarding technology now available). But what can we be doing at home as parents to help ensure the internet is safe for our kids? In this collaborative post here are three simple ways to help teach children internet safety at home.
3 simple ways to teach kids internet safety at home
1. Start teaching as young as possible
According to Ofcom, 52% of three to four-year-olds spend nine hours a week online. Nineteen per cent of the same age group have their own tablet, rising to 42% among five to seven-year-olds. If nothing else, this tells us that kids are more connected than any previous generation, even if they are mostly watching cartoons on YouTube.
Given that kids are starting so young, it’s important that they start learning about internet safety from a young age too. A simple internet plan from somewhere like spectrum internet means you can have high-speed internet, TV and phone services on one trusted network which the whole family can use, and there are different bundles to choose from to suit your needs. In an ideal world, you will supervise them when they search and teach them basics such as not clicking on ads, ignoring unwanted communication and telling a grown-up when something they don’t like pops up. It’s strange for those of us who grew up without the internet, but these skills should be fostered before even going to school.
2. Foster online social skills
Growing up is all about learning to operate within a wide variety of social situations. This is hard for all children and a major part of childhood is falling out and making up with friends. But now that these social interactions are taking place on the internet as well, things are starting to get a little more complicated.
There are a few different ways to communicate online but the key message for all forms of communication is respect. Just as you should teach your child how to talk nicely with others, they also need to understand that the same rules apply online. They should also be clear that talking to strangers online is just as dangerous as talking to strangers on the street.
3. Don’t give them free reign – yet
We’ve all heard the horror stories of kids who spend thousands of pounds on online games without their parents knowing about it. In a nutshell, this is why you should try to make screen time a communal, family thing – at least while they are little. It’s very easy to use screens as a kind of pacifier but this is no time to take your eye off what your little one is getting up to. Making full use of parental locks is a very good idea and you can edit the controls as they grow up and become more responsible.
Do you worry about internet safety at home? Do you have any safeguards in place? I’d love to hear about your experience!
This is a collaborative post.