When the heat reaches dangerous temperatures during the summer, kids might seek solace inside, opting to take to their computers to play games and interact with friends on social platforms. But computers hold a different kind of threat that shouldn’t go underestimated by parents.
A new report finds the producers of a recent PBS special called Internet Safety 101 offering important tips on how parents can protect their kids from various cyber threats, such as bullying, being exposed to adult websites, or falling prey to an internet predator. It’s important that parents understand how to counteract these dangers, as the threats are likely more common than many otherwise attentive parents might realize.
Parents can begin by simply speaking with their children about appropriate behavior on the web. Log on with your kids, encouraging them to spend time on those sites that you know won’t pose a danger. Let them know that they can always come to you if something inappropriate takes place online. And if it does, realize that it’s not the child’s fault; it’s best to reserve your anger for those responsible.
You can go a long way toward protecting your children by supervising them when they’re online. However, there will come a time when kids want to exhibit independence, and that’s when extra precautions must be taken. If your child is going to be using a social network or playing online games, set up the accounts for them and have them inform you of any password changes. Make sure their profiles can only be seen by those who have been directly authorized to do so, such as family members or friends from school. Make sure that you also have a profile with which you can connect with your child.
Every internet browser should have some sort of web filter you can use to limit the types of sites your kids might be exposed to. Take the time to become familiar with this software and set it up correctly. To further reduce risks, keep the computer or mobile device updated with the latest security measures so that they’re not exposed to a virus or malware.
There are certain activities your children should avoid. Although chatting with friends is usually admissible, your kids should be warned not to post photos or videos of themselves. The moment such media goes live, it can’t be taken back, and anyone can repost that material. Kids should also refrain from uploading any identification information, such as an address or phone number. And if someone asks for these types of things, or attempts to initiate a meet-up, tell your children that they are to cease communication and inform you at once.
Finally, be aware of the danger posed by cyber-bullying, and consider getting in touch with police if someone is threatening your children.