It’s a holiday period, a time for children to relax and learn other skills. They would be at home with their parents and could have access to the internet to read books, listen to music, watch movies and cartoons, play games, work on their assignments, add new knowledge, and communicate with friends among many other things.
The world has evolved a lot and it’s nearly impossible not to introduce children to the Internet or block their access to it. The internet can be a rich source of information for children to explore.
Access to the internet can be quite enlightening and informative. It can also help to grow a child’s mind, however unguided and unmanaged access can also mean a child could stumble upon or get access to the negative information that is also available through the internet.
So here are some of the ways to maximize all that the internet has to offer while minimizing the potential harm to the child.
These are some possible threats a child is exposed to by being online or while using the internet.
1. Inappropriate content: Exposure to inappropriate content happens when children are exposed to some information or images that upset them. Material that is directed at adults, inaccurate information or information that might lead them into unlawful or dangerous behaviour.
2. Cyberbullying: This means any aggressive, threatening, or mean-spirited activity conducted via electronic communication (email, social media posts, text messages, etc).
3. Online scams and fraud: This is a type of cybercrime or deception which makes use of the Internet and could involve hiding of information or providing incorrect information to trick victims out of money, property, and inheritance.
4. Online Predators: Most times, they are adults who use the internet to entice children for sexual or other types of abusive exploitation.
5. Phishing: This is what cyber security professionals call the use of messages or emails that try to trick people into clicking on malicious links or attachments.
6. Identify theft: This means the acquisition of one’s personal information by a malicious actor.
7: Downloading Malware: Malware is computer software that is installed without the knowledge or permission of the victim and performs harmful actions on the computer.
Children must be given an idea of what internet dangers are all about to know how to operate in the online world.
Furthermore, one of the top priorities of every parent involves keeping children safe at all times. So here are tips to help and keep them safe while surfing the internet.
The internet offers a lot of advantages to children especially when it is used adequately.
The following points will help keep children safe online:
1. Communicate with your child: As a parent, you should be able to effectively communicate with your child. Follow up on what they do online and have honest conversations with them on who and how they should communicate with people online. Provide them with some online behavioural etiquette.
It is also important to let your children know that the internet is not private and so they should be mindful of their reputation and do only what is appropriate.
2. Keep phones and devices where you can monitor them: In a house where there are younger children, parents should be able to monitor the devices in the house and know whom their children communicate with. They should also checkout the websites they surf, and what it is being used for.
3. Set clear rules that guide internet usage in your house:
In case of any breach of the rules, the gadget can be locked with a password. And in the case of extreme misbehaviour, it should be taken away. Moreover, when children report any abusive online acquaintance or offensive websites, make sure you block them off and report the site or person when necessary.
4. Teach them not to disclose sensitive information: Most children tend to act naïve since they think very innocently of the online community. Your duty as a parent comes into play here. You must teach them that some people online are not truly what they are in real life.
There are a lot of fraudsters and scammers, therefore sensitive information like the house address, phone number, name or parent’s name, location, and pictures are sensitive content and should not be disclosed to strangers.
5. Regulate the time spent on the screen daily: In this 21st century, most children stay glued to their phones for several hours and it invariably becomes a strong bad habit. Therefore, parents should regulate the time their children spend on screen.
6. Make them know that any post made on the internet is permanent: It is important to let children understand that whatever post they make on the internet is permanent and cannot be truly deleted. Therefore, they should be mindful of what they say or disclose to people online. As a parent, also ensure to keep the webcams covered, update the antivirus software and also make sure that the privacy settings are in check.
When children are taught how to be cyber-wise at an early stage, it keeps them protected, safe and well-informed.
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