How do I Keep my Child Safe on the Internet
The internet can be an incredible tool for learning, research and fun, but with unregulated content there is a lot of inappropriate material, hidden viruses and online predators. So how can you keep your child safe online?
Inappropriate MaterialThe brilliant thing about the internet is that anyone can post almost anything they like. Unfortunately that also makes it dangerous for children as there are few controls over who can access which sites.
Internet filtering software can help to block obviously adult site types, and credit card registration limits other sites to people old enough to have a credit/debit card, but there is adult content on popular teen social networking sites – including graphic sexual imagery and videos.
Unless you supervise all your child’s internet use it is impossible to keep them safe all the time. While this is recommended for younger children there will become a point when you have to give your child the freedom to browse the internet within certain guidelines. At this point it’s a good idea to talk to them about some of the things they might find online. Explain that if they ever see anything that makes them feel uncomfortable they should talk to you about it.
Internet PredatorsGrooming has had a lot of media coverage in the last few years and most teens are fairly aware of the dangers, but paedophiles aren’t only interested in teens so make sure that younger kids understand the ground rules as well. The basic rules to keep your child safe are:
- Never give out your full name and address to anyone online
- Don’t tell anyone you meet online how old you are
- However nice they seem don’t arrange to meet anyone who you know online
- If anyone says anything that makes you feel uncomfortable tell an adult
Even if you think your child knows all this, it’s worth telling them again on a regular basis.
As well as paedophiles your child could be at risk from cyber bullying by other children. This might be children they know at school or could be total strangers they have met in chat rooms.
Cyber bullying is as serious as off line bullying and has led to suicides in the past. As with all bullies cyber bullies have to be stood up to. Make sure your child knows that they have your support but don’t be tempted to bully their aggressor back. It’s easy to forget that this online bully is a child but they are. And bear in mind that adult to child cyber bullying becomes cyber harassment which carries heavy penalties.
Avoiding VirusesComputer viruses might not be a direct threat to your child, but your child needs to understand how serious a virus is. If they download an infected file to their computer (or more likely your family computer) it will corrupt files and could wipe out your entire system. As part of your ‘online behaviour’ guidelines make sure they understand what your rules are about downloads.
You can’t keep your child perfectly safe all of the time but you can teach them basic common sense to help them make the right decision on, or off, line.