Between social media, email, gaming, and messaging apps, the Internet is a place of communication. Still, it isn’t always safe. While it’s good for kids to stay in touch with their friends, they might put themselves in dangerous situations accidentally.
It’s important to learn appropriate online safety for kids, and it’s a good idea to pick good habits which won’t become outdated as the Internet inevitably expands. We live in a constantly connected, fast-paced, digital world. Fortunately, it doesn’t need to be a dangerous one. Check out these top 10 online safety tips for kids.
Tip One: Staying Anonymous
While it’s difficult to remain anonymous on social media websites like Facebook and Instagram, it’s still possible to keep one’s information private. A lot of social media websites do require real names for login credentials—but it’s important for a child’s safety to come first.
If your child is going to use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or another social media platform, just remember that they’re not creating legal records. They needn’t use a real phone number, date of birth or location. Instead, they can keep some of their information private to avoid private information being shared.
Tip Two: Posting Pictures Safely
Because social media relies heavily on visual media, it’s a good idea to assure your child’s pictures don’t reveal any personal information in them. Over the Internet, some people can claim to be a person’s best friend. Or, they can attempt to get close to a person by claiming they like them—and asking for pictures.
Remember: Once a picture is on the Internet, it might be there forever—even if it’s deleted. Make sure your child’s posted pictures don’t give others information about their home address, school, or personal life information—as even a little information, about one of these things, can put them in harm’s way.
Tip Three: Having Online Friends Safely
It’s easy to make friends online, but it’s a good idea for your child to keep them online. Even if your child has met a great person, they shouldn’t try to meet them. Remind your child of the statistics which show how dangerous the Internet can be. Even in 2019, a person could masquerade as someone they’re not—and they might harm your child after being kind to them online.
Tip Four: Gaming Safely
Your child likely plays games online, as do most children these days. Still, it’s important that they keep their identity safe behind their various online accounts. If they have a username for a gaming platform, make sure that their account doesn’t feature any public contact information.
Similarly, it’s a good idea to make sure your child doesn’t share their Facebook, Instagram or Twitter accounts with someone they’ve never met in person. Even if their social media accounts are safe, information-wise, someone wishing to do harm to them might narrow down options after connecting their conversations with publicly available information.
Tip Five: Avoiding Ads and Quick Purchases
A lot of modern adds claim to sell great things at low prices. Some might even state the website visitor has won something. While adults can easily navigate around these false marketing tactics—or even fraudulent activities—it’s difficult for a child to determine what’s legitimate, and what isn’t.
It’s a good idea to install a viable ad blocker on your child’s computer. It’s also a good idea to make sure your child avoids any online purchasing forms which ask for personal information without your permission. Doing so might put your family’s financial information at risk. Or, worse, its safety.
Tip Six: Finding Credible Information
While we live in the age of digital information, not all available information is legitimate. Ask your child to talk to a librarian, a teacher, or yourself when browsing websites for projects. Doing so will assure they’re reading factual information, as opposed to falsified leads.
As a rule of thumb: Your child should always be able to explain where they got their information from. Ask your child to visit the public library, if they need to be absolutely sure about the facts they’re researching—as libraries tend to have safeguards in place which assure the validity of what’s read online.
Tip Seven: Blocking Dangerous Websites
The Internet is a big place, and not all websites are safe for children. Fortunately, it’s possible to keep your child away from these websites by changing your computer’s Internet browsing settings and parental control options. This said, it’s still a good idea to use blocking and filtering software for added protection.
These software options help shut out websites which not only shouldn’t be visited—but which shouldn’t come up in search results. Some software even adds extra parental controls, storing snapshots of computer use activity for parents to check at a later date.
Tip Eight: Keeping the Computer Centralized
Location matters. In many ways, simply keeping your home’s computer in a common area can secure your child’s browsing. It reduces the chance of them visiting prohibited websites, but it also helps parents know when they’re accessing messaging apps, games and social media.
Tip Nine: Teaching Them to Browse Safely
In general, education is the most important resource a parent can access. Make sure your child knows what sites to avoid—as well as the sites they should feel comfortable on. It’s similarly a good idea to block online chat rooms, greatly reducing the chance your child will potentially encounter dangerous people online.
Tip Ten: Storing the Passwords
While a lot of websites allow for password auto-completion, storing passwords is an important step in a full-security approach to computers. Help your child make different passwords for different platforms, and keep the written passwords in a central location so you can help them if they’re having trouble.
If your child is educated, and if they have decent supervision, they’ll be safe online. Help them achieve a safe presence online, and always be ready to explain to them the positive reasons for security, safety and healthy browsing habits to educate them and help them grow.