As parents or guardians, we always want to ensure our children are safe and protected in whatever they do, including online. Times are changing and children are exposed to the internet at an earlier age and spend more time online. The internet may be very useful and educative, but it has its downside. It is essential that children be protected while online because they can be exposed to cyberbullying, inappropriate content like pornography, invasion of privacy, identity theft, people with bad intentions (cyber predators), and addiction. All these things negatively affect your kid and you can protect them by:

1. Setting up parental controls/ search restrictions

You may not be with your child whenever they are online; that is where parental control settings come in. Parental control is a feature offered by web browsers and internet services providers on your computer that protects your child while online. Innocent searches may lead to not-so-innocent results, making it essential that you set up parental controls.

Parental controls block your child from intentionally or accidentally accessing any inappropriate content online on their phones or computers. A perfect example is SafeSearch Filters on Google which blocks any site containing explicit content. It also prevents children from accessing certain games that may have too much violence or playing online unsupervised. Parental controls also prevent your child’s personal information from being visible to everyone while online and being seen by people they only want to share it with. It is a gem when it comes to child protection measures. If you don’t know how to set it up, you can get the necessary information from the computer or phone user manual or contact your internet service provider to set it up for you.

2. Playing safe when online

Danger lurks everywhere and the best thing to do is to play safe to ensure your child’s safety. Especially when on social media, you need to take extra precautions and this can be achieved by:

  • Be careful with pictures and messages your child posts, even to close friends. A popular phrase says, “the internet never forgets” and those things may come back to haunt them in the future.
  • Teach them not to share or publish any personal information like location, email address, school attended, phone number, or date of birth. This information may land in the wrong hands.
  • Ask them to make a list of sites they access and apps they visit, look at the list together, and remove and warn them from accessing any of the listed that you may feel inappropriate.
  • Keep them aware of the dangers online and encourage them to speak when they encounter those things or any other thing that makes them uncomfortable.
  • Record anything abusive or offensive they may have received and report it to the appropriate authority or site management.
  • Be present when they are physically meeting any new online friends to avoid them being put in dangerous situations. Following the tips above helps keep your child safe and helps the fight against human trafficking.

3. Set boundaries

What is meant by setting boundaries is controlling how long they access the internet and the places they access it. It is crucial that you limit the time your child accesses the internet since it is self-explanatory that the longer your child is online the higher the risks of encountering any dangers. A child’s recommended time to access the internet is about 2 hours a day. The younger they are, the less time they should have access. This also helps curb the problem of addiction and developing bad habits.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Children’s safety is key and parents and guardians should be proactive in ensuring it is protected when online. They should also be role models by setting up a good digital footprint for their children. Every picture or message posted online by the parent contributes to the child’s digital footprint. If the parents are into inappropriate things, their children’s chances of coming across or being affected by them are very high. Remember that deleted posts are not necessarily lost and it is up to you to maintain discipline online for your child’s sake

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