14 Tips for Keeping Kids Safe Online

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UPDATED May 27, 2022
Written By Merlene Leano

COVID-19 brought about dramatic changes in various sectors worldwide, and that includes the academic sector. Students had to shift to hybrid learning, wherein activities and lessons are now in the form of online modules and lectures, it is inevitable that they will spend more time scouring the internet.

The Internet can be an invaluable tool to make learning more fun and interesting. Utilize it correctly and it serves as an excellent resource for kids to broaden their knowledge and consciousness of the world. On the other hand, not everyone has the best intentions when they go online. Much to the chagrin of parents, cyberbullies, online trolls, and worse, sexual predators are lurking across online communities and social platforms.

Parents, schools, and students should all take the necessary precautions to keep their personal information secure at all times. Otherwise, the lack of security measures could predispose young learners to online bullying, identity theft, exposure to obscene and inappropriate visual content, and even child exploitation.

All these risks coupled with internet use leave parents baffled on how they can maintain a safe learning environment for their child while ensuring they do not get exposed to users and content that could be detrimental to their well-being.

Below are the guidelines on how to protect your child from the Internet.

1. Limit the amount of time spent on gadgets.

A child's general health and development may be harmed if they spend too much time online, even if they do it for academic purposes. Some health conditions in kids, including depression and obesity have been linked to excessive screen time.

How can parents restrict their children's screen time?

According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry,  when a child is between 18 and 24 months, their exposure and access to computers and mobile devices should strictly and purely be to introduce them to age-appropriate learning materials.  Non-educational screen exposure should be limited to one hour per day during the week and three hours per day on the weekends for children ages 2 to 5. Encourage healthy practices and restrict screen time for children aged six and above. Another way to limit screen time in children is to turn off all devices during family meals and trips.

Despite the prevalence of screens in our daily lives, it is crucial to exercise caution regarding your family's health, mainly if your kid spends a significant amount of time studying on a computer or tablet.

2. Encourage openness and transparency.

Talking to your child about internet safety tips for kids should be a regular occurrence. Encourage an open communication line with your children about the potential risks they could encounter while browsing the internet.

It is imperative that you remain proactively engaged in your child’s security, even if it means discussing difficult topics such as cyberbullying, pornographic material, or even mild to extreme depictions of violence. Take the time to explain to your kids why these types of digital content are detrimental to their psychological well-being. In this manner, children will know which types of content and websites to avoid. It would also be best if you instruct them to report to their parents, guardians, or teachers immediately should they encounter any inappropriate content or activity online.

Also, it's critical that you educate them on the importance of setting clear boundaries in the digital world. They must be taught ways on how to keep their accounts and identity secure, and that includes:

-Using a combination of alphanumeric and special characters for their passwords

-Refraining from sharing their email address, usernames, and passwords with strangers

-Checking that they are opening a page or website with a secure connection

-Immediately reporting suspicious files sent to their accounts or marking them as Spam

-Turning off their webcam when not in class

-Keeping their profiles private and excluded to close family members only.

3. Keep all gadgets and mobile devices where you can see them.

Never leave your kids unattended when browsing the internet. These days, kids can now watch an assortment of nursery rhymes and kid’s shows on various video streaming platforms. The problem lies in the platform’s algorithms. Some videos use child-friendly graphics such as 2D or 3D cartoons to conceal the inappropriate message or context in their videos.

An example of this is how an explicit YouTube video depicting two famous characters in a fictional children’s movie circulated online.

Make sure you can see your kids' computers and other electronic devices so that you can monitor the activities they engage in while online. If you have extra space in the living room, allot a study area where you can easily keep track of what types of content and activities does your child access regularly.

Teenagers can be especially sneaky as they gain more exposure and awareness of more mature content. Even if you're occupied with home duties, you can still monitor your child's internet time. You may swiftly ask them to close anything that is not appropriate for their age if they accidentally click on an R-18 website.

4. Encourage your kid to use complex passwords.

When it comes to protecting children online and their personal information from dangerous individuals or other parties, using strong passwords is really essential. The more secure your password, the more protected your child will be from hackers and malware. Avoid using personal information like your birth date or name as your login.

5. Take advantage of parental control settings.

When children and teenagers use electronic devices, they may be exposed to harmful material such as pornography. Fortunately, as technology has progressed, so have methods for protecting kids online.

Use parental control settings if you don't want your children to stumble into obscene Internet material. It is possible to ban specific applications and websites, including adult material, inappropriate, unsuitable, or illegal content online from being accessed by minors once you activate parental controls on your child’s devices.

Aside from that, internet service providers, search engines, video streaming sites, and chat applications also provide ways to restrict what young audiences can access or view using their platforms.

6. Know how to use social media.

Some parents are not tech nor social media savvy. The best approach to aid your child is to educate yourself on the platforms, apps, and websites that they use. If needed, sign up or create accounts on these websites and communities so you can see and try it for yourself. It will also help you educate your children better on what to look out for when they are using them.

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7. Be wary of potential warning signs

An essential component of internet safety for kids online is to be on the lookout for changes in your child's use of electronic devices, efforts to conceal online activities, withdrawn behaviour, sudden outbursts of anger or irritability, and behaviours linked to anxiety and sadness.

Any abusive behaviour that takes place on any website, social media platform, or online community is considered to be online abuse. Some examples of abusive online behaviour that kids could encounter include sexual grooming, verbal abuse, exploitation, emotional and psychological harm. When not addressed and prevented early on, it could lead to a more severe form of harm to your child.

8. Make sure you know who your children's internet pals are

Thanks to multiple social networking sites currently available, meeting new people and expanding one’s circle of friends has been made simpler. An active social life is beneficial for your kid’s development. However, as responsible adults, you must also be aware of the risks associated with having several social media contacts, particularly those that you or your child have not met in person.

See to it that your child’s online social circle is limited to your close relatives, their classmates, and teachers. As much as possible, your child should consult with you whenever they receive a friend request or a private message from a stranger. Some sexual predators steal the identity of unsuspecting users to create a fake persona which they will then use to lure their victims.

Keeping tabs on the people your child associates with on the internet is synonymous with establishing and maintaining an open communication with them.

9. Install antivirus and anti-malware software in your child’s electronic devices.

Keeping kids safe online can also be achieved through equipping their devices with software that protects them from hackers, malware, suspicious files, or attempts to breach their security. You can also use an internet filter as an additional layer of protection. Internet filters are software that regulates the material that a user may access via the Internet.

The inclusion of filters is meant to restrict your child’s access to sites that could risk their safety or privacy. Most filters give you the option to choose the level of control over which websites and content are accessible and not depending on your child’s age.

10. Teach them to be mindful of what they share online.

Thinking before sharing highlights the significance of online safety.

In 2020, there are an estimated 3.6 billion social media users globally, and your kid is likely one of them.

In the event that you enable your kid to have their own social media accounts, you must inform them that any details or photos they share about themselves could potentially be used against them. For instance, if they set their account’s privacy to public, then they are increasing the risk of strangers stealing their photos and information and using it to scam other individuals.

Even if your child or teen posts a photo of themselves online, they've effectively relinquished ownership of the material and are no longer in charge of it. Without permission or context, it might be downloaded, modified, and disseminated.

Make sure to review any images your child intends to publish online before they are made public.

11. Prevent your child from revealing their exact location.

One of the dangers of using social media is the possibility of revealing one’s location to the world. It typically happens when a user does not turn off location tags or has their location feature activated on their mobile device.

Instruct your kids not to overshare online. Tell them that sharing your home address, their school’s location, or even the country, state, or neighborhood where they reside gives cybercriminals massive clues on how to infringe their privacy.

You can also install a VPN on your child’s computer, tablet, or phone so that hackers cannot trace their exact address.

Do extensive research on how much information is shared by the different social platforms and communities to third-party providers. If possible, try to check which third-party entities are granted access to user data collected in the platforms that your child uses.

12. Learn about the online games your children play.

In protecting your children online, you should also consider your child's gaming habits. Your kid may benefit from playing video games using a computer or a game console.

However, there are slews of video games marketed at adults that may include themes, language, or imagery that you don't want your kid to see. Check that the games they are playing are appropriate for their age. There are several online games with explicit content and themes that parents need to be wary of.

Find out the types of games that your kid is interested in and you can help them remain safe and secure.

13. Report!

You should take note of anything your kid receives that is either abusive or insulting and notify the website’s administrator about it.

For example, to report a Facebook post, all you have to do is click the ‘Report’ button in the upper right-hand corner.

Contact the proper authorities right away if you have any reason to believe your kid is being followed or harassed online.

14. Content moderation

Inappropriate information is widespread online. Sadly, even websites meant to facilitate online learning for kids are being perpetrated by online scammers and cybercriminals.

Moderating user-generated content (UGC) is an essential aspect of upholding the safety of young internet users. Content moderators secure customer privacy and internet safety for kids by implementing profanity filters, blocking users exhibiting abusive behaviour, reviewing what other users post and share in the community, as well as reiterating the community’s set of guidelines in maintaining harmony with other users.

Keep Your Child Safe Online

As a parent or guardian, your role is to demonstrate to them that you are aware of the significant impact that technology and the Internet have on their development. The growing number of internet users makes it even more imperative that children are taught how to use the Internet in a sensible and responsible manner.

It could mean keeping a close watch on the profiles of individuals they chat with, which websites they are browsing, and the type of content they are downloading.

The 14 tips to keep kids safe online in this blog are meant to serve as your guide on how to keep your child protected without taking away the joys of using technology and accessible learning resources. Don’t forget to explain to your kid why you are enforcing these rules before you implement them. Instead of outright banning something, make sure they understand why you're restricting the time spent on the internet and on their gadgets.

More and more companies are now providing content moderation services for children's websites to protect kids from predators online.

Detecting suspicious behaviour on children's websites and removing it before it reaches the intended audience is one of the many services we provide at Chekkee. Our children's site moderators are equipped with the latest cutting-edge technology and are well-trained to guarantee that your child's online experience is both enjoyable and wholesome.

Keen to know more about our services? Chat with us!

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