Exploring Internet Safety with Your Child

This is a collaborative post

The internet can provide us with a range of opportunities to keep in contact with friends and family, learn, shop, and play games, to name but a few. However, there are unfortunately some dangers lurking online, such as predators, identity thieves, hackers, and other threats. With that said, it’s important for people to use the internet responsibly, and parents need to educate their naïve children. After all, children do not always think about the consequences of their actions and can be quite gullible. Here is some advice from a sixth form in Surrey on exploring internet safety with your child…

Obviously, it can be quite tough to keep your child completely safe online, especially as they are starting to become more independent and require some privacy. You can start by setting up some parental controls and educating yourself as much as possible when it comes to the online world and what websites/apps young people are drawn to. What are some of the basic web threats? What is phishing? What are some popular online games? This will help you establish some ground rules, like preventing them from using a certain website until they’re old enough etc.

However, try to be flexible with your rules and get your child involved with the decision-making process, as this will promote mutual respect and trust. Also, they need to be able to take better ownership of their safety online and understand why you’re putting these rules in place – it’s not just because you’re mean old mum or dad but because you are genuinely concerned for your child’s safety.

Be sure to have regular conversations with your child about online safety and start early; it shouldn’t just be a one-time thing as it will take time for your messages to sink in. Teach them not to share any personal information online, such as address, phone numbers, card details etc. Inform them that if criminals gain access to this information, they can cause harm to your family. You should also talk to them about social media and the importance of not sharing any intimate photos or anything else they’re not comfortable with. 

Try and create an open an honest environment for your child when it comes to internet safety so that they feel comfortable opening up to you about it. Let them know that you are there for them if they want to talk about anything they may have encountered online. For instance, if they witness any cyber bullying or feel threatened by something online, they should chat to you about it.  

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