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The internet isn’t something you can really ignore. It’s 2017, and just about everybody uses the internet daily for one reason or another. Teens use it to catch up on gossip and post pictures, adults use it to catch up with old friends (sometimes also using it for the same reason as teens), and even grandparents use it to stay in touch with family and friends. The internet can be used for both work and play, for learning and relaxation.
The thing most parents worry about is how to keep the internet a safe and positive experience for their kids. With some of the horror stories around today, it’s clear that things can happen right under your nose. Parents are becoming more vigilant for this reason.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll discuss how you can keep the internet a safe and positive experience for your children. Read on to learn more.
Chat With Your Kids Honestly About The Risks And Dangers
Depending on the age of your kids, you should have a chat with them honestly about the risks and dangers of the internet. Obviously you don’t want to be too negative and scare them half to death, and whatever you do say to them should be appropriate for their age. The way you’d explain it to a 6 year old will be very different from the way you’d explain it to an 11 year old. However, you do need to make them understand that they must be careful and safe, and that not everybody on the internet is who they say they are. It’s a good idea to stop kids from setting up social media sites until they are old enough to do so. Many sites have age guidelines in place as it is, but children are still lying about their birthdays in order to get a profile. Make sure you’re vigilant and put ground rules in place. It can be tough to stop them if their friends have profiles, and you may be portrayed as the evil villain. However, you shouldn’t give in – this is for your child’s own safety. They have plenty of time for social media as they get to the correct age. Social media is a huge distraction from the important things and can take up hours of time with pointless scrolling and stalking, so you really will be doing them a favor by not letting them create a profile until they are old enough.
Even older kids are not immune to the dangers of the internet, and should still be spoken to about risks and guidelines. It’s shocking the amount of teens who will still plan to meet somebody they have never met before, without truly knowing who they are, in spite of the horror stories out there. All you can do is make sure they know the dangers and look out for changes in their behavior – more on this later.
Install The Right Software
Installing the right software on the computer will make it a safe and positive experience for everybody. Viruses are common, so you will at least need anti-virus software in place to stop you from having to reset the whole computer, or worse, buy a brand new one. Blocking certain sites is also an option. Although you will have spoken to your kids about the dangers of looking on certain sites, they can see things at times without meaning to. Sometimes they might even straight up disobey you. This is why it’s a good idea to have software in place that will block inappropriate sites from being accessed.
There’s even software that lets you see what your kids have been looking at – if you’re worried that they have been speaking to somebody they shouldn’t have been, or have been accessing worrying sites (there are sites promoting eating disorders, self harm, and more). However, trusting your child and their judgement is usually the best option, so you should only use something like this if you have real concerns.
Go With The Right Provider
The right internet provider will be beneficial for a number of reasons. If you want a fast internet experience, then you should read Optimum.com to get an idea of the sort of speed you’d need. This is especially important if you work on the internet at home, or if you do things that need a strong internet connection, such as streaming TV shows. The right provider may also provide you with a package including TV shows and films. They may also be able to provide child locks so your kids can only access certain sites.
Encourage Learning Online
If there’s one thing the internet is great for, it’s encouraging learning. There are so many sites and programs you can encourage your kids to use to help them learn. Check out this site if you need some inspiration.
Make Sure You Show Your Kids That They Can Talk To You
You can’t always stop bad things from happening, but you can make sure that your kids feel good talking to you about it. Don’t just tell them that they can talk to you; this rarely works. If you’ve proven time and time again that they can’t tell you about something that has happened or about how they feel without blowing up like a volcano, they are going to put them off. You need to prove with your actions that they can tell you things without you going crazy every time. Make sure you really think about how to react and respond. This can be a bit of a minefield, so you should probably prepare yourself for certain situations in advance.
Watch Out For Warning Signs
It’s a good idea to look carefully at your child for warning signs to make sure nothing is going on behind the scenes that you don’t know about. Don’t just assume that they will tell you, because this won’t always be the case. If they get snappy, distant, and even change their eating habits, it could be a sign of cyber bullying or something else going on. You should just assume the worst – after all, kids can change because of hormones and things. However, you should keep an eye out and make sure you go with your gut feeling. If you want to ask your child if something is going on outright, it’s better to do so when it’s just the two of you, perhaps when you’re out taking a relaxing walk when they don’t feel so ‘on the spot.’
Set Time Limits
It isn’t a good idea to let your kids use the internet for as long as they want. Many platforms are designed for them to come back to again and again. It’s so easy to stay online for hours because of this. Set strict time limits and stick to them. They should be fair and realistic, but also encourage them to spend their time doing more productive things.
Have The Home Computer In A Shared Space
If possible, it’s a good idea to have the home computer in a shared space. You may find they show you different websites that they visit and are more open with you about their usage this way. Not only that, it gives you a chance to keep an eye on things, and also deters them from visiting sites they shouldn’t or speaking to strangers. The lounge or living room is a good place for the computer. Choose somewhere where there’s occasional foot traffic so it’s natural for you to drop in, but somewhere they can complete homework or concentrate if needs be.
Make Sure They Know The Risk Of Information Sharing
Your child doesn’t necessarily need to arrange to meet with a stranger for things to be dangerous. Sharing information online is something they can do without really thinking, and very dangerous in all kinds of ways. Make sure they understand the consequences of sharing information, and that they are careful with things they post. Status updates, location check ins, and even pictures can all share sensitive information without the poster realizing. Make sure they know to avoid replying to messages from people they don’t know, that they shouldn’t accept friend requests from strangers, and that any profiles they have should be completely private.
If you stick to these tips and make sure you have honest conversations with your kids, as well as set boundaries that you stick to, you should all have a safe and positive experience online. You can’t keep them away from the internet forever, and even if you don’t have it at home, they will likely come into contact with it at friend’s houses and school. That’s why, no matter what, you should put these tips into practice so they know the right things to do. Make sure you’re reasonable – there’s no need to make them complete technophobes by preaching about how dangerous the web is all the time, but you should make sure they know the truth.