Beware of the Internet: Cyber Safety 101 | USA!
We live in an age of rapidly evolving technology and unless you plan on sheltering your child in the house for their entire life, they are going to come into contact with it one way or another. Because it is imminent, we must make sure children know how to be safe on the internet.
As time goes on, it seems that children are being introduced to the internet at younger and younger ages. This may not necessarily be a bad thing, but when there are crime drama episodes about internet incidents and even a reality tv series where people pretend to be someone they’re not on the internet, you know there are dangers out there to be aware of.
You won’t always be able to protect your little ones from danger, but by setting ground rules and teaching them how to practice safe internet usage, your children will know right from wrong in any situation.
If you’re stuck, I’ve got a couple ground rule suggestions to help get you started.
Limit their time on the internet.
Of course screen time should always be limited in general, but limiting their internet time to an hour or so will teach them discipline and how to budget their time. If you’ve ever binged a show on Netflix (don’t lie) then you know just how time can get away from you especially when you’re browsing the internet or watching videos.
By limiting their screen time every day and encouraging them to be active and go outside, you are helping them live a healthy lifestyle. Everything is okay in moderation, but in order to be balanced, you need to do different activities in moderation.
Studies have shown that too much screen time can cause aching headaches and migraines; something that our kids shouldn’t have to deal with.
Keep internet compatible computers in a common area at home.
You won’t always be able to know what your child is doing or playing on the internet, but while at home you can check in on them during their screen time by having internet compatible computers only allowed in common areas of the home such as the living room, kitchen or dining room.
This shouldn’t be an issue with smaller kids, but you may have some problems if you have pre-teens/teenagers in your home.
Keep track of the site they visit.
You don’t have to constantly ask them and check their screen while they are playing on the computer, you’ll just get on their nerves and probably cause an argument by doing that.
To avoid the unnecessary argument, you can simply check your browser history to see which websites they visited during their time. If you have a tech savvy kid and you’re worried they will delete the browser history before you have a chance to peek at it, there are various apps and software options to download that will save your history and disable the option to clear the browser history.
TRUST YOUR CHILD.
The single most important thing you can do is trust your child. Unless they have given you a reason not to trust them, don’t be a “snooper.” Snooping will only cause your child to lose their trust in you and could potentially cause an irreparable rift in your relationship.
If you do have cause for concern, there are ways to set parental controls and block certain websites from being accessed or showing up in a Google search.
Of course, these are general rules and you can modify them in whichever way fits your family the best. The real lesson here is to have a set of rules and be consistent with them so your child knows what to and not to do during their internet time.
The world can be a scary place and there are certainly some bad people out there. So long as we continue to teach children the importance of internet safety, we won’t have to worry about these bad apples ever reaching into your home.