As computers and smart devices have become more common in the home, so has allowing your children to start using them at a young age. But there are many risks involved when your kids have accessibility to the Internet at their fingertips. It can be very easy for them to accidentally reveal too much personal information or be exposed to inappropriate material. Cyber bullying and online predators are also harmful threats to your children’s safety. Ultimately, appropriate rules for online use vary by age, maturity of the child and your personal family values, but here are some tips to help get you started keeping your kids safe online.
- Have the computer in a high-traffic area of the home
This allows you to frequently check in on what they’re doing online. You can also apply this rule to tablets and phones by only allowing them to use these devices in public spaces around the house. If it seems unrealistic to keep track of their Internet activity this way, you can install apps on your kid’s wireless devices to let you monitor their activity and limit which websites they can visit.
- Talk to your kids about what they like to do online
Stay involved in their online activities – if you know what websites and apps they like to use, you’ll be better equipped to warn them of potential dangers, like posting personal information or sharing inappropriate photos and videos . Following your kids on social media is also a good idea to stay up-to-date on everything they are doing and saying.
- Don’t let them download or install anything without your permission
Explain to your kids that scams and viruses can easily be disguised as downloadable games or software installs and updates. By urging your kids to get your consent every time one pops up, you can safely check it out without jeopardizing your family’s privacy and online information.
- Warn them about cyber bullying and predators
Talk to your kids about not sharing mean or hurtful comments online. If they receive mean messages, show them how they can block the bully’s account to prevent additional messages. If the messages are threatening or dangerous, alert the appropriate authorities, whether that is the school administrator, the social media site itself, or the police. Discuss the dangers of meeting people for the first time after chatting online, and encourage them speak with you if anything online ever makes them feel uncomfortable or unsafe.
There is an increased need for security as technology continues to advance in your home and become another normal household accessory. Stay up-to-date on the latest information about how to protect your family from cyber criminals and always keep an eye out for potential threats or suspicious activity. To learn more about staying safe online, visit mo.gov/cyber.