There are many benefits to using the internet. It can aid our learning and upskilling and help us stay connected to friends and family around the world, amongst many other things. Unfortunately, when it comes to children and their use of the internet, parents are rightfully concerned, as modern technology can also be a very dangerous place when used irresponsibly. From hackers and viruses to child predators and stalkers, there are lots of things we need to educate our children on so that they stay safe when using their digital devices.
Of course, how much you choose to share with your child about the dangers of the internet is dependent on their age. You don’t want to scare them, but it is crucial that they are aware of some of the risks involved. To help you educate your child on internet safety, here’s some advice from an independent college in Hendon.
Start by chatting to your child about the types of websites and apps they would like to use, or that their friends are using. Before you immediately decide what is or isn’t allowed, go away and do some research. Find out about any age restrictions, or what’s actually involved in the app. Then prepare a list of those you are comfortable with and those you would prefer your child didn’t use. When you’re telling them about the ones you’re not happy with, make sure you explain why. If they don’t understand, they will just think you’re being mean. However, if you share some of the dangers involved with the website/app, they might be able to see your side.
There are usually some parental controls built into various digital devices. However, these aren’t always enough. You will also need to have some clear-cut rules about internet use so that your child knows what is or isn’t appropriate. For instance, explain to them that sometimes people online are not always who they say they are; they might be pretending to be someone else as a way to get access to certain information or even cause harm towards your child. With that said, you should have rules about not sharing personal information online, including any passwords, addresses or where they go to school. They also need to know that they should never meet up with someone they have met online, especially without adult supervision.
Your child might have some questions about the information you’re providing them with, which you should try and answer as honestly as you can. While you might not want to tell them what a paedophile is, you can explain that there are some very bad people out there. Try your best to monitor your child’s internet use so that you can see what they’re up to. For instance, you could impose a rule that they’re not allowed to use technology in their bedrooms; it can only be used when other family members are around.
There are lots of books and online resources that you can look into to help you make more informed choices when it comes to setting boundaries about internet use. Don’t be afraid to also contact your child’s teachers for some additional information if you feel that’s necessary; the pastoral team will be more than happy to support you.