Kids and the Web: 5 Safety Tips Worth Implementing

December 11, 2015

9:17 am

We live in an amazing world where toddlers learn via iPad apps and a 17-year old kid sells his app for $30 millions to Yahoo.

The worldwide web gives our kids access to loads of amazing educational tools and absolutely free knowledge we have never had. Yet, at the same time, the Internet has just too many materials out there that most parents would rather not show to their kids. Nobody wants their young kids to go on the Internet without any sort of supervision or monitoring. On the other hand, as parents, we all know that if we tighten the reins too much, kids will either access the Internet through their friends devices. Worse, they will wait until they are adults and will begin using the Internet with no ability to self regulate, and no ability to make good judgments.

The best choice seems to be the middle ground between no monitoring and draconian measures. Here are 5 Internet safety tips that work well for kids.

Parents Should be Truly Educated

There is an web cartoon that depicts an adult clicking on pop-up ads, installing toolbars, and doing other things that are widely known to slow computers down and cause issues with malware and viruses. Then, a young person tries to use the computer, which is now slow and buggy. The last panel of the cartoon is the adult cluelessly scolding the young person for messing up the computer with their games and social media.

Unfortunately, there is truth to this cartoon. Kids often know more about the devices in their homes than their parents do, and when parents fail to acknowledge this, they lose credibility. So, make sure you do know all the personal online safety rules and follow them vigorously before urging your kids to do same.

Keep Devices in a Common Area

Children and adults alike should be encouraged to keep their devices in a common area. This encourages families to engage in companionable silence when they access their devices, and also gives kids direct access to parents if they surf into something upsetting. No tech in the bedroom rule is actually good for everyone.

Monitor Kids App Downloads

Sadly, there are many apps that can be used to obscure online behaviors, or to put kids at risk for bullying and exploitation. On top, there were just too many cases when kids spent hundreds of parents’ dollars on in-app purchases, intentionally or not.

Windows phones have a great My Family feature that allow parents to monitor all the kids activity when it comes to PC, the Xbox, Zune and Windows phone. Set up My Family for Windows phone to track the apps that are downloaded on their network so they know that nothing dangerous is installed.

Net Nanny is another popular parental control choice that works seemingly across different platforms and on multiple devices.

Be Respectful, Yet Safe

Parents can and, in fact, should establish the right to access their child’s social media accounts, texts, and emails if they decide that they have valid reasons to do so. Most children will respect this if they know that the adults in their lives are motivated by their well being.

Unfortunately, parents can damage this trust if they access their child’s personal communications for the purpose of digging up gossip or finding information to cause embarrassment. Let your small one know the rules in advance and work together on establishing the most appropriate rule set.

Expect Kids to Make Mistakes and Help Them When They Do

The best way to keep kids safe on the Internet is to know that they will make mistakes and to be there for them when they do. Even in the most tightly monitored situations, Kids will still misjudge other people and hurt feelings will happen.

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Dianna is a former ESL teacher and World Teach volunteer, currently living in France. She's slightly addicted to apps and viral media trends and helps different companies with product localization and content strategies. You can tweet her at @dilabrien

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