The Internet is a wild and wonderful place, and can be an excellent resource for kids – as well as an essential tool that has become necessary to be acquainted with. However, the freedom and accessibility that make it so useful can also be the source of hidden dangers. And just as we exercise caution with the ‘real world’ environments that we allow our children to visit, the Internet should be regarded with a healthy dose of vigilance and awareness. And prior to letting your kids go online, it’s your responsibility as a parent to teach them basics of digital safety.
Many of the dangers inherent with using the Internet are just as applicable to parents – from vulnerability to stalkers or fraudsters to maintaining our own levels of online etiquette. Openly discussing issues such as Internet safety problems, protecting their identity and reputation will help kids to develop their sense of responsibility.
Taking the time to go through tech safety steps such as setting privacy settings can help your young ones learn to look after themselves. Additionally, there are also a few tweaks you can make on your own to keep kids out of certain types of trouble: safety settings to restrict mature websites, permission restrictions to pay for apps, etc. Phishing is a form of online fraud that requires the unwitting participation of the victim, so the best defense is awareness: research the warning signs with your children, and don’t forget to memorize them for yourself!
Bullying on the Internet is one of the ugliest side-effects of the WWW age, with 35% of high school-age kids suffering from cyberbullying. It can be an embarrassing issue for a young one, so encourage them to talk to you, let them know what is the best way to respond to online taunts, and be sure to report any bullying to the appropriate authority.