The internet has never been this accessible. New generations can't imagine life without it. Your role as a parent is essential. Just like you get kids ready for real life, you need to prepare them for the virtual world. That includes behaving responsibly by avoiding risks and maximizing safety when going online. Here are some pointers that will help teach your children about responsible behavior on the internet!
According to AACAP, you shouldn't expose children to screen time until they are 18 months old. The only exception would be communicating with a parent or sibling over video chatting apps.
The non-educational screen time should begin at the age of two. Try to keep it under an hour daily, except on the weekends. From there, you can gradually increase the allowed time spent online.
While your children are young, using kids phone monitoring apps for parents can be a wise idea. You can lock phone access in certain timeframes or prevent them from visiting websites with sensitive content. Messaging reports and alerts when risky words, such as drugs or bullying, appear is another convenient feature.
Once your kids become teens, it will be harder to restrict phone access. It's why setting the right habits at a young age is imperative. With teenagers, encourage joint activities or express interest in their activities. If you've already established a strong bond, children will share anything unusual that happens to them immediately.
The foundation of responsible online behavior lies in maintaining maximum security. Unfortunately, the internet comes with many threats, such as cyber bullies and identity theft.
Here are the main tips to improve web security for children and adults:
- Always use a strong password. Don’t make it too obvious and use lower and uppercase letters, as well as special symbols.
- Be careful where you access emails and social media accounts. If you use public computers, always use incognito mode and log out of all sessions once finished.
- Install antivirus software on your computers. A firewall can add extra protection to a PC.
- Some websites come with age restrictions. For example, most social media require a user to have at least 13 years of age.
- Avoid clicking on unverified links. If you received an e-mail or message from a stranger with a link, don’t click it. The same applies to installing a program sent in attachments. Even if it promises to be that new game the child has always wanted, it’s almost surely a bait.
Children should keep their social media profiles private and only visible to friends. That being said, it’s important to pick who they add as a friend. Discuss how to recognize a fake profile and explain they shouldn’t accept strangers.
The experts strongly advise against sharing sensitive info on social media and gaming sites. That includes home address, current location, phone number, vacation plans, etc. Predators and hackers could abuse this information.
Understanding the internet and navigating the virtual world responsibly required constant effort. As a parent, you always need to be alert. Monitoring things like your children’s list of friends is imperative. Ask them about any person you might not know.
Parents should show interest in their kids' online activities. If you seem interested in the games they are playing or the websites they are visiting, you'll strengthen the mutual bond. That will instill trust and ensure your child turns to you if they encounter a problematic situation.
It's not only how the virtual world treats you but also how you treat others. Many people have a worse choice of words online than offline. But staying kind and polite is equally important.
Instead of sending humiliating messages to the person who lost the game, winners should thank them for playing. And if anyone provokes, there's no need to respond. Instead, it's better to take the high road and leave the conversation.
Responsible online behavior starts by staying safe online. That includes not sharing sensitive information publicly, avoiding accepting strangers as friends or followers, etc. Another component includes treating other online participants with respect and knowing how to avoid those that show disrespect.
Different situations might arise daily, so parents should closely monitor their kids' internet activities. It's best to explore the virtual world together, so it doesn't look like controlling but participating in an important part of the child's life.
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