From smartphones to multiplayer video games like Minecraft (which has sold over 200 million copies as of May 2020), kids today have more access to the online world than ever before. Unfortunately, this access offers as many problems as it does opportunities for kids and parents.
Parents need to be clear about the boundaries they’re setting while offering guidance that enlightens their kids about the dangers of the internet. While maintaining an open dialogue and building trust with your kids, it’s important to keep up with emerging trends and technologies to make sure that your kids stay safe online.
To help you help your kids navigate the internet more safely, here are a few tips you can use to make your child a better (and safer) internet user.
- Be careful about which apps are on your phone. Many kids play on their parents’ phones or have their own smart devices. In fact, traffic from wireless and mobile devices will account for over 63% of total IP traffic by 2021. Make sure that you’re careful about which apps your child can access. Certain apps like After School, Ask.FM, Bigo Live, Holla, and Whisper put your child at risk for cyberbullying and other dangers.
- Teach your kids about posting with caution. Your kids are never too old or too young to be reminded that posting personal information can put them at risk with strangers. As of July 2015, over 70 million people in the U.S. have criminal records and a person is only charged with a felony after their third subsequent offense. If your kids have profiles on social media sites like Facebook, make sure that they know whatever they post becomes public and is almost impossible to get back. Even deleting a post doesn’t always remove it because other users can screen-cap the post.
- Teach your kids about scams and scammers. Don’t expect your kids to stay on a designated website when they’re online. Approximately 38% of internet users stop engaging with a website if the layout is unattractive. Instead, teach them about how to avoid scams and scammers when they’re searching for topics they’re interested in. When your kids know how to avoid sketchy looking websites, you can feel more at peace when your kids use the internet.
- Remind your kids to be respectful. It can feel like an entirely different world when you go online. But it’s important to treat others online with the same respect that you would treat someone offline. Remind your kids to treat others the way they would like to be treated and to avoid posting online when they’re angry or upset.
- Check in with your kids regularly to see how they’re doing. Monitoring what your kids do online as they get older can be an invasion of privacy that leads to a lack of trust between the two of you. Instead, keep the conversation about internet safety open between you and your child to establish trust and to offer helpful advice when they need it.
It’s important to help your kids understand how to stay safe online. By following the tips above and keeping an open dialogue between you and your kids, you can help your kids make the most of their online experience without putting themselves at risk.