Safer Internet Day: How Parents can Ensure a Safer Internet Experience for their Children

Monday 4 February 2019
It’s a digital era. Things have become simpler with the internet. Nowadays, our daily activities are planned using the internet. The Internet provides us with data, information, and knowledge. It depends on us how we choose to use this information that we gather from the internet. Some choose to use it in a productive way and some don’t.

The Internet can be used to send emails, research, download files, follow and become part of various discussion groups, play interactive games, education, friendship and dating, electronic newspapers and magazines, job-hunting, and shopping.

The Internet is a handy tool not only for adults but also for children. Children have come to know that the internet is this magical identity that is capable of replying to ambiguous questions/doubts. It also provides templates of pretty much everything.

It is up to us- the adults, to teach our children how to use the internet safely. Today, children are very techno-savvy and are well acquainted with using computers, laptops, tablets, etc. But children often are not aware of their online safety, viruses, phishing, social networking etiquettes, and many other internet security issues.

The risk of overuse causing speech delays in toddlers, poor quality of sleep, and incidence of depression for teenagers (especially those who use social media consistently) are some of the major concerns parents have regarding children’s internet usage.

Things parents can do to provide their children with a safer internet experience:
  1. Discovering the internet together is a good option. Introduce your child to the internet. Develop a positive attitude towards exploring the internet in your child. You can do this by finding fun and exciting websites to learn. Exploring the internet together will make it easy for your child to share both positive and negative experiences with you.
  2. It is important for parents and teachers to discuss internet safety with children at an early age because children at this age still use computers under the supervision of their parents or teachers rather than independently. They need to be told that the internet has both safe and unsafe things. As the children start to grow they start using the internet independently. It is then that they need to know what is safe and what is not.
  3. The easiest tip you can give to any child for using the internet safely is that if they won’t do something face-to-face, they should definitely not do it online as well. For instance, in real life, you will never walk up to a stranger and start a conversation or be abusive to a friend or stranger. So we should not do it online as well.
  4. Tell your children that once they’ve written/put up something on the internet, they can’t delete it. The Internet is wonderful place provided we be careful about what we say and do over there. If you want respect, you have to give it in return. Tell your children that it is not okay to express hate, racism, sexism, and/or violence online as it can hurt someone’s sentiments and can have back-firing consequences.
  5. A simple rule for children while using the internet is to be careful when disclosing personal information. Phone number, credit/debit card details, bank account details, etc. should not be shared with anyone on the internet. Children using social networking sites like Facebook should be told to not mention a lot about themselves. Personal information and photos they post online can be accessed by anyone at any point in time. Regardless of privacy settings, once anything is online you can usually no longer control who sees it or how it is used.
  6. Teenagers and young adults should also know that many employers and university admissions offices check the candidates’ social media profiles before selecting them. It is important to filter and check what children put on their social media handles like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.
  7. Discuss with your children and make internet rules for them. For instance, decide how long it is acceptable for your child to use the internet. Tell your child about what type of sites should not be visited. Set an ideal for how to behave with others while gaming, chatting, emailing, or messaging on the internet. You should also follow the same rules and set a benchmark for your child. In case if you are doing something that you have told your child not to do, then explain to your child why the rules are different for adults and children.
  8. It is always risky to meet friends online. To avoid any unpleasant experiences, children should not meet any strangers online. If they really wish to meet someone they met on social networking sites like Facebook, then they should not do it without being accompanied by an adult. This is important because if they feel uncomfortable during the meeting they can bail out in the presence of an adult around them.
  9. Parents should be more vigilant and should monitor their children’s online activities as much as they can without intruding into their privacy. Parents should also teach their children good Passcode Management and tell their children to use two-factor authentication wherever they can. As a responsible parent, you must set up a google alert about your child and beware about significant cyber-bully signs.
Parents should educate their children early and often. The Safer Internet Day is just around the corner. Are you unsure what to do about it? Well, to start with, you can show the world that you stand up for a better internet. For this, you can add a Twibbon to your social media profile pictures.

As we celebrate the Safer Internet Day, millions of people have united for one common mission i.e. to make the internet, a place where people use technology responsibly, respectfully, critically, and creatively.