Exploring Internet Safety With Your Child

*This is a collaborative post

The internet is wonderful in many ways. It can be informative, entertaining, and even helps us stay connected with people who live far away. However, if used irresponsibly, the internet can be dangerous. With that said, it’s crucial for parents to explore internet safety with their children and have some clear-cut rules in place regarding which websites can and cannot be visited. I have teamed up with an independent college in London to share some advice.

Start by setting aside some time to have a one-to-one chat with your child about what type of websites they like to use online or which apps they have downloaded to their smartphone. Ask them what these sites and apps entail but be sure to let them know that you’re not asking because they’re in any kind of trouble or because you are judging them, but that you’d like to make sure these websites are safe and age appropriate. It will be difficult for you to monitor your child and set some rules if you don’t even know what it is they’re using the internet for. 

Use this one-to-one time as an opportunity to talk to your child about some of the dangers of the internet so that they know what they’re up against. Let them know that sometimes people pretend to be who they’re not online so that they can scam people out of money or inflict other type of harm on them. Explain that sometimes adults pretend to be children to gain the trust of other children, but they’re actually very threatening people. Of course, you don’t want to scare your child too much, but instilling a sense of apprehension will help them use the internet more responsibly.

Once you and your child are on the same page about what is and isn’t appropriate online, you can start to list out some rules. For example:

Do not meet up with people you have met online
Do not share personal information, such as home address, passwords, or card details
Do not share inappropriate pictures of yourself
Do not make nasty comments to/about other people online
Keep your bedroom door open when using the internet/Only use the internet in communal parts of the house

These are just suggestions; you may have other rules you’d like to add. It might also be worth ensuring you know the passwords to your child’s digital devices so that you can check their search history and messages from time to time (without invading their privacy too much). 

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