It’s no secret that for most parents, worrying about online safety is becoming an increasingly important part of their never ending to do list.
It’s a simple reality of the world we live in, that digital dangers are just as much of a concern as anything else. In fact, a recent study found that over 85% of Australians are concerned about their online privacy, and parents certainly have a large role to play in that group.
At the same time, technology has become such a crucial part of our day-to-day lives that it’s impossible to shield littles ones from the wonders of the world wide web. So how you can you keep them safe without over-protecting them?
Location is crucial
Sometimes, keeping your kids safe online is as simple as keeping an eye on them. While it may not be possible, viable or even advisable to watch their every move online, if you have a shared family PC or laptop, it’s a smart idea to set it up in a common area like the kitchen or living room. That way you can monitor what your children are doing online without having to hover over them endlessly.
A common area computer will not only encourage your kids to spend less time online, but knowing there’s a constant possibility of you seeing what they’re doing will reduce the chances of them getting up to no good – at least intentionally!
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Help them choose a strong password
Password protection is a basic, yet crucial, part of online safety. While most parents can come up with creative passwords easily enough (child’s favourite toy + birthday = unbreakable!) – your kids may not be as savvy. Sit down with them and help come up with unique passwords that will keep them safe online – they’ll need a different password for each site they use.
It also doesn’t hurt to encourage them to change their passwords regularly. As it stands, only 56% of people change their password regularly, so by getting them into the habit early you’ll keep them safe from potential hackers.
Follow the four P’s
Online etiquette can be confusing for kids, and material that may seem innocent to them could be interpreted as inappropriate by others. Research into Australian online behaviour found that less than half of people are always careful about posting images of their family online. In my personal view that’s conservative, I would say a quarter would be closer to the mark.
Get your kids accustomed to ‘pausing before posting’ by employing the “Four P’s” rule: don’t post anything publicly that parents, police, principals or predators shouldn’t see. This will teach them what is and isn’t acceptable online.
Set up their social profiles with secure settings
Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Musical.ly, Vine…the list goes on and on. The amount of platforms available to kids these days can leave even the most tech-savvy parent scratching their head. The reality is that your child will sign up to whichever social feed is fashionable at the time, so it’s important to teach them how to create a profile with the proper privacy and security settings.
Make it a rule that any new profile has to pass the “parent test” – meaning you approve their privacy settings before they set up their account. Encourage your child to take part in coming up with the consequences if they break the rule, and firmly agree on these together up-front. This will make compliance much more likely, and will also make it much easier to enforce the consequences if need be.
Learn to log out
It may sound simple – probably because it is – but encouraging your children to log out of a computer after they’ve finished using it is one of the best ways to keep them safe. Staying logged in to a computer can leave your child vulnerable to cyber bullying if someone accesses their account.
Fraud is also a common issue, with studies discovering that 9 in 10 people are concerned their online information might be used for fraud. Teaching your children to log out after using a computer, regardless of whether it’s at home, school or at a friend’s house, will ensure they don’t leave themselves vulnerable to any kind of mistreatment or misrepresentation.
How tech savvy are you? Share with us in the comments.