The internet is not just a valuable learning tool for children, but also a major player in how they socialize. Between the tablets, phones, laptops, school computers and gaming devices, children have access to the internet just as much as we do, but they aren’t prepped with the same kinds of tools to protect themselves. Simply put, your child could be putting themselves in harm’s way by unknowingly engaging in risky online behaviour patterns.
Here at BullGuard we dedicate a lot of time to understanding how we can help you to better protect your children, and this article is about just that.
Here are 5 tips to prevent risky online behaviour in children:
1. Enforce the age guidelines of sites such as Facebook, no matter what kind of death stare you’ll get from your 12 year old. Here are some general age appropriate guidelines:
- Under 8: direct supervision while online.
- Tweens (8-12): stay close by while they’re online, but give them a little freedom to explore. Ensure that their privacy settings are set to their highest level.
- Teens: Set rules that work for both you and your children; they still definitely need boundaries.
2. Communication is key. Talk to your children about the risks and your expectations for online conduct and advise them: “think before you post.” Encourage questions and keep the lines of communication open.
3. Monitor internet usage, so that you know what they’re doing online. Is your tween spending time in chat rooms? Who are they talking to, what kind of information are they sharing? Chat rooms can be completely innocent, or they can lead to potentially dangerous situations. Educate your children on the risks of talking to strangers; it’s no different online than it is in real life.
4. Educate yourself! Your children are in all likelihood more internet savvy than you are, and that means they’ll be able to hide content and online activities from you. If you’re up to speed on Facebook privacy settings and phone numbers that they’re texting constantly, they’ll know they can’t get anything past you.
It’s a complicated world out there. Use these tips to help guide your conversations and the structure you provide to your children to protect their internet security. Don’t forget, they need you to help them establish the tools to avoid engaging in risky online behaviour.