Internet dangers isn't always the easiest task for parents to get their kids to take online safety serious. It can become a really touchy and uncomfortable subject if you are not very knowledgeable about the internet. Our children will never know or truly understand the world where smartphones, tablets, computers and social media didn't exist.
As parents, it's our responsibility to instill the knowledge that you've acquired to your children, especially when it comes to online dangers. In today's age, the chances that your kids know as much if not more about technology and internet, are extremely likely.
One of the absolute best ways you can do that, is by learning as much as possible, as well as staying up-to-date about the online world and the dangers it carries. It's also crucial to know where and what your children are doing while online. Once you've broadened your knowledge of the internet, make sure to sit down with your children and discuss the nature of this very large window to the online world we possess and the safety precautions that they need to be taking to ensure their safety when online.
I often hear parents asking at what age should they start talking to their children about internet safety. My answer is always this, if your child is already using the internet or is asking to start using the internet, then you should have the discussion with them. The earlier you start teaching your kids about the dangers and bad people that lurk online, the better off and safer they will be. Teaching internet safety should be second nature for parents at this point, just like the task of potty training or teaching your child how to properly care for their teeth.
It's important to drive home the point that ANYONE can be hiding behind the opposite side of the computer screen. It doesn't matter how nice or non-threatening someone's profile picture is, it doesn't always mean that's the person on the other end. Children need to understand that creating a false online identity is as easy as a few clicks of a button. Make sure that your kids know that sometimes people create fake online identities/accounts to vicious or perverse and other times for one reason or another, or maybe it's for fun. The most important point of all to make sure that your child doesn't forget, is the fact of how easy and quick it is to pose as someone or something they really are not. Regardless of the user's age, realizing and having a full understanding of the dangers that are attached to fake online identities.
If your kids are skeptical, demonstrate to them how easy it is to create a fake online account. Create a fake profile on any social media platforms, enter a fake name, date of birth and bio. You can even go as far as downloading a random picture from Google and download it as your default profile picture. Hopefully, after seeing how quick and easy the actual process is, this will end up sticking in their minds.
Always be clear about the rules that you expect them to abide by when online. Make sure that you discuss specific information that they should never share online with strangers, such as their address, phone number, or even the school they attend. It only takes a bit of digging online when someone knows your personal info, allowing them to figure other private things about you, even if it's vague private info provided.
Another very important subject to talk to your child about online safety is that anything and everything that you post on the internet, is there to stay; it never goes away. Online communications are permanent even if popular sites such as Snapchat boast that conversations disappear after a very short amount of time. In this case, this isn't an "out of sight, out of mind" matter, the information is still there and if need be, can be recovered. Hopefully, this will make your child think twice before they decide to engage in online group bullying or possibly responding to posts and or messages that they shouldn't.
Familiarizing yourself with the in's and out's of the internet are not only beneficial for the safety of your child, but for yourself as well. Technology is forever changing and the same goes for the internet. The more your child and you know, about online safety, greatly lessens the chances of your child becoming a victim of internet crime.
Have you talked to your child about online dangers and their safety yet? If you have, what methods have you used and instilled to protect your children? Leave your comments below.