From homework to social media to gaming, we’re willing to bet your kids spend time online every day. It’s a whole new world out there, and it’s never too early to start talking to your kids about staying safe online. We’re firm believers that Internet-safe kids become Internet-safe adults. Where to start? Here are some ideas.
You can start talking about online security with your kids when they’re little – even before they’ve used a computer or other Internet-connected device. As you play online games together or surf YouTube, talk about the things you’re doing. Why did you login? Why is your password so long? How come you’re not accepting that friend or follow request? You’re their best role model for secure Internet behavior.
It’s a Secret
As they get older, kids will get accounts with games and services like Club Penguin, Webkins, or Minecraft. Help them create non-identifying usernames and strong passwords. Explain why you do this, and stress the importance of keeping their password secret. Explain why they shouldn’t share it with anyone – even their best friend. The only person they should share their password with is you; we do recommend having the ability to access your kids’ accounts.
Be in the Know
Many parents set rules about Internet usage. Some keep computers and laptops in public areas of the home so they can see what their kids are doing. Others set parental controls so only certain sites and activities can be done by their kids while online.
We recommend both of those things, plus a few others:
- Know how your kids use the Internet. Do they go online for homework? Social networking? Gaming? Knowing where they’re going can help you watch for problems.
- Know how to use the games/websites/services your kids use. Yep, your kid’s a whiz at that game or app, but you have no idea how it works. Time to change that. Learn how to use the websites and apps they use so you can be aware of potential dangers.
- Be friends/followers of your kids on social media. It may feel like spying, but “friending” your kids on social media can help you keep tabs on who they’re connecting with and what they’re doing.
Encourage Safe Social Media Use
Facebook, Twitter, SnapChat, Instagram … it can seem like kids are on social media from the time they wake up until the time they go to bed. Encourage safe social media use, including:
- Only become friends with people you know
- Be aware of identifiable information in your profile: School name, address, email, etc.
- Be smart about details in photographs. For example, is your street name or house number showing in the background?
- Avoid oversharing – especially when they’re feeling emotional. Online predators look for kids who are emotionally vulnerable.
- Never meet anyone you’ve met online in the real world. You can’t believe everything you’ve read online.
Set Rules and Boundaries
Make sure your kids know the rules and expectations for Internet use in your home, including:
- When devices can be used
- Where they can be used
- What tasks they can be used for
- How long they may be used
- How much access you will have to their accounts and activities
Keep those lines of communication open, and let kids know they can come to you when something happens online that makes them feel uncomfortable – just as they would for offline experiences.
Need help with online security at home or work? Contact PNSolutions today. We can customize a solution just for you.