10 tips to protect your children online

What information do your children disclose about themselves? And as parents, what can your intervention be? Here are 10 tips to keep your kids safe on the Internet.

10 tips to protect your children online

1. Do not be afraid of Internet

The Internet is a fantastic resource. It is the occasion of international friendships, limitless learning and many forms of creation, connection and sharing. For your children, it’s not just their playground, but an educational tool, a source of entertainment and the main way they communicate with their friends. Take advantage of this potential.

2. Train and train your children

Knowledge is power. You may feel less familiar with your children’s technology, but it’s your responsibility to teach them how to use the Internet safely and to be responsible digital citizens. Inform yourself and inform your children.

Learn with your children

Know which sites, apps and games are appropriate for each age. Learn about the parental controls that can be used on your routers, browsers, and devices, and learn how to use them. Understand the risks and benefits. Ask your children to share their technological knowledge with you (probably larger than you suspect).

Take an interest in what your children are doing online

Ask them to show you which games, apps, and sites they use, and who they talk to. Spend time together on the Internet: play Angry Birds, create a virtual pizza or feed a Moshy Monster.

3. Talk to your children, and exchange regularly with them

Encourage ongoing, regular and open discussion about their online lives. Ask them what their friends are doing online, what are the games of the moment, what they like and do not like, and why.

Tell them to be careful

Explain that it is not a matter of control but of security. They may show impatience and teens will roll their eyes, but insist.

Make sure they understand the risks of disclosing personal information

Explain what can happen if they reveal too much about them.

Ask them to come see you if they have a problem

Make sure that you listen and treat their problem calmly, without blaming them or overreacting.

4. Agree on clear boundaries, and apply them

Even if you block the latest war games or adult games at home, they may be available at your child’s friends. Children can also easily connect in
an unsupervised line through their smartphone.

Do you agree on:

  • Which sites your child has the right to consult.
  • How he must behave.
  • How long can he go online?
  • What to do if he is confronted with something that makes him feel uncomfortable or upset.
  • How to treat personal information.
  • How to be socially responsible when using e-mail, instant messaging or games.
  • Actively supervise your children until they have integrated your message on safety and developed the ability to protect themselves and others. Even then, continue to check from time to time.
  • With teens, get ready to negotiate. In case of transgression (and there will be), apply the sanction agreed.

You can not be here 24 hours a day, and monitoring and filtering software can be turned off by a determined and computer-savvy child. (The opposite may also happen, as I experienced when my teen blocked my access to my own computer.)

5. Think security

Review the security settings available on your browser, search engine, and devices, or install parental control software.

Keep your home network protected and use a reliable password on your router. Keep your software up-to-date on all devices. Encourage your child to create reliable passwords, and not share them with anyone, not even friends.

Explain how to know if a website is encrypted (look for the padlock symbol or “https”).

Always close the session and lock your devices. Make sure your children do the same.

Explain the public nature of public Wi-Fi access.

6. Talk about social networks

Take the time to review with your kids the privacy and security settings of their Facebook®, Twitter ™ accounts, including who can see their messages and images.

Explain how to block people, delete messages, and prevent friends from revealing your identity on photos without your permission. Emphasize the importance of sending and accepting requests to add to the friend’s list. Your teenager will not agree, but what matters is the quality and not the quantity.

Make it clear that once messages and photos are online, they will not be able to control who sees them or how they are used.

Talk about cyberbullying and appropriate reactions.

7. Teach children to protect their privacy and security

Even in an “always connected” society, 9 out of 10 Gen Yers find that too much personal information is shared, according to Pew Research’s Millenials in Adulthood report.

Train your children to think before sending or clicking. Make sure they know the following principles:

  • Do not meet in person someone they have “met” online.
  • Do not open e-mail messages from someone they do not know.
  • Do not click on suspicious links or suspicious attachments.
  • Never give out personal information without your permission.
  • Do not respond to abusive or suggestive messages.

Teach your children to be aware of the digital traces they leave behind. Make sure they understand that they are never really anonymous online and that nothing can be completely erased: it always remains somewhere in cyberspace.

8. Cultivate respect for reputation

Ask them to think about the type of image they are shaping. Encourage them to think carefully before posting anything embarrassing or controversial. What they and their friends find fun today could turn tomorrow into pans. Friendships can be lost, relationships lost and potential employers put off by an unthinking message or cliché, and even comments made by online friends on their “wall”.

And ask them not to worry too much about selfies. The outrageous selfies can be perceived as narcissistic and pretentious, and can sometimes disclose too much information.

9. Avoid using file sharing software

Talk to your children about the risks of illegal downloading. File sharing sites access your computer and can store viruses, malware, and links to harmful sites, not to mention the temptation of games, videos, and music.

In addition, you may end up having to pay the bill for everything your child downloads.

10. Be a model

Children learn by example. If you spend hours glued to your computer talking about yourself to the world, playing until the morning or downloading files on questionable sites, it is likely that they will do the same.

Peter S.

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