Knowledge is Key to Protecting Children Online

By Sandra Quinn

We live in an increasingly online world where the internet is part of everyday life for most children – their reading materials are online, they watch their favourite shows online, listen to the radio online and speak to their family members abroad using the internet.

As such, it is one of the scariest times for parents, as they fear for their child’s safety in the vastness that is the internet.

You often hear older parents saying that the internet is a young person’s game and so it is sometimes the case that the child in the family is the one in control of the Wifi, they are the ones who understand the settings and can change them to suit themselves and the ignorance of their parents about what they are doing online gives them a degree of protection and privacy.

One of the main concerns for parents is that their child will give out personal information online, which could compromise their safety.

Most of the concerns also focus on online gaming and social networking sites.

Like most things, in order to protect them, you first have to learn about what they are using, how they are using it and how often.

For instance, be aware of what devices and games can connect to the internet and be in control of what kind of accounts and access they have.

It is also wise to be aware of how different apps use your location and as well as encouraging an open dialogue about what your child is doing online, let them know that you will sporadically check in on their accounts and this way they will be more careful with their online behaviour.

Here are some basic tips to keep your child safe online;

  • Limit their use of online networks until they understand the dangers and risks associated with posting things online.
  • Talk to them about what they are saying and doing online and make sure that they feel like they can talk to you if something happens, which concerns them.
  • Get comfortable with the privacy settings in the apps they use and ensure that their privacy settings are to your satisfaction.
  • Keep up to date with your research and read up about new apps, fads and what your child might start using.