A recent report by Parenting in the Digital Age shows that less than half of parents felt confident in ensuring their children were safe online, and one in three children have had a bad experience online. It also found that only 46 per cent of Australian parents felt they’d be able to deal with the online risks that their children might face. So, how can you teach your children to use the internet safely? From teaching them about computer viruses to online privacy and hidden dangers of social networking sites, here’s some tips to keep them safe as the browse the web.
Place the computer in a shared area
Keeping an eye on your children’s internet activity is much easier if they don’t use a computer in their room. Make sure the computer’s screen can be seen from different parts of the room, and that it doesn’t face the wall. Children will be more inclined to avoid viewing images or sites they shouldn’t if their parents are walking around behind them.
Set reasonable usage limits
Some professional guidance has stopped short of recommending specific limits on screen time for children, yet many still argue that too much time on the computer can have a negative effect on school performance, sports performance and be dangerously addictive. Be sure to set rules about what they can and can’t do when they’re online, and keep in mind that health experts in America advised parents to limit screen time for kids to a maximum of two hours per day. For those aged between two and five, the recommended limit is one hour per day.
Talk about potential internet dangers
If you think your children are old enough, have an honest and open discussion with them about the dangers they may face online. From teaching them to click with caution and be aware of malicious software, to the issues that come with internet chat rooms, it’s important that your children are clued up about what they may come across as they browse the web. Explore sites and apps they like and look through them together, so you can both put together a list of appropriate sites they can enjoy visiting.
Don’t share your password
Your children may not understand the importance of keeping passwords a secret, so it’s best not to let them know your password or make sure you don’t use the same password across different accounts. You can teach kids basic password management skills and set them up for success from a security perspective.
Parental controls are a good option
According to parentscorner.com.au, a great way to protect your kids online is with parental controls and tools. Your internet provider may offer these for free, and many smartphones, tablets and laptops have them pre-installed. You can filter and block specific websites or words, or block outgoing content so your children can’t accidentally send information via email. There are also monitoring tools that alert you to your children’s online activity and even record any websites they’ve visited.