Online safety is a serious matter, and it’s crucial for parents to know how to keep children safe online. Oftentimes, the statistics are panic-inducing and staggering.
- Under the age of 10, roughly 9 out 10 children spend time on the internet in some capacity.
- Out of every 5 children, 1 has experienced inappropriate solicitation online.
- Of every 4 children, 1 has seen adult content in some form.
- For teenagers, roughly 6 out of 10 have received a direct message or an email from a stranger.
- Among those teens, half replied to that message.
The Internet offers us constant access to limitless information. Moreover, it allows us to connect with friends and family across the globe. However, it is also a boon for those who seek to harm others.
From cyberbullies and stalkers to people with an inappropriate interest in kids, people have more access to attempt to prey on children. Additionally, the Internet offers them a certain level of anonymity. As teachers and parents, it’s important for us all to know how to keep children safe online.
Easier Said Than Done?
Of course, this is also true. As children grow up, they tend to push boundaries. Additionally, children often remain silent about these issues for fear they might get in trouble.
However, these experiences often lead to trauma that has a long-term, damaging impact on children. When children are not mature enough to process these online interactions properly, how do we protect them from an increasingly dangerous world?
Moreover, how do we do so without stunting their curiosity and creativity?
What We Can Do
When it comes to how to keep children safe online, a balanced approach is key. Additionally, it’s good to know what tools you have available.
First, it’s crucial for parents to set clear boundaries. Oftentimes, a good start for this is to use the parental controls that come with devices and streaming services. For instance, have your children utilize the special Netflix channel specifically for children.
Additionally, Amazon allows parents to set restrictions on their children’s accounts according to age ratings. For example, you might set it to ensure they see nothing rated above TVPG. Other devices allow you to set a PIN in order to access the app.
Some services also make it possible to limit how much time children spend on a service or app.
With the right boundaries in place, though, it’s easy to become complacent. Often, people use parental controls as a scapegoat so that they don’t take the blame for keeping them from the activity they want.
However, this is about how to keep children safe online. Parental controls are just the beginning.
Location, Location, Location
Another boundary to put in place is where children are able to use certain devices. For instance, your house might have a “no tablets in the bedroom” policy. Often, that means children are less likely to look for something troubling because they have to do so in plain sight of an adult.
Unfortunately, closed doors often act as an invitation for mischief while being in the same room as a parent is a deterrent. A major component of this strategy is to check browser history or recently used apps at random.
This helps you know who they chat with and what they look at. As they say, knowledge is power. When it comes to how to keep children safe online, knowledge is one of your strongest tools.
Education & Communication
Education and communication are crucial for any aspect of raising a child. One way to open up the channels of communication is to spend time online with your kids. For instance, you might visit sites that interest them or show them which apps to use.
The key here is to model good behavior. Oftentimes, it’s easy for us to respond “just google it” when kids ask a question. However, they don’t always know what keywords give them the best results.
When they use vague terms, they gain vague results. Moreover, some of those results might not be age-appropriate.
When you share time online, you also have the opportunity to talk openly with them about the dangers of the Internet. Honesty, openness, and a little fear go a long way, and that’s an important part of how to keep children safe online.
For parents and teachers alike, it is essential to stay informed about what goes on online. While it sounds a bit hokey, it’s a good idea to learn more about current chat abbreviations.
Additionally, when a new app becomes the trend, take some time to learn about it. Often, these apps are not as innocuous as they seem.
It’s also important to educate yourself on misinformation and how it spreads online. As we spend time online ourselves, it’s crucial for us to model good choices for our children. That includes the information that we trust, read, and share with others.
Lastly, it’s important to monitor your child’s offline behavior as well. Part of how to keep children safe online is recognizing signs of trouble.
- Is your child more secretive lately?
- Do they seem scared?
- Are they closing browser windows when you walk in the room?
- Do you notice signs like them not eating well?
All of these are offline behaviors that are cause for concern. They point to the idea that they’ve interacted with some content that’s not appropriate for them. Alternatively, their time online might have a negative impact on them.
Additionally, they might point to cyberbullying or inappropriate engagement with a stranger. Oftentimes, parents more easily recognize these changes. However, it’s important for teachers to be on the lookout as well.
Learn How to Keep Children Safe Online with Us
At our private school, teachers have an advantage when it comes to communication and monitoring because we have smaller class sizes. This offers more opportunities for individual interactions with students.
Still, this article only scratches the surface of how to keep children safe online. Yet, with the information above, you can help your child have a better experience online. While your kids might mope about some house rules, they benefit from the safety and security of a positive online experience.
At Saint Nicholas School, we care deeply about the safety of our students. To learn more about our school and program, contact us today.