Teenagers and younger children are now spending up to 9 hours a day on media which includes watching TV, playing video games, catching up on social media and online videos. That’s a lot of time spent plugged in. With so much time spent on media and the internet, it is important to ensure that your child is safe from the dangers that are available online. This includes online predators. A recent survey amongst 10 to 17 year olds showed that one in every five of them had been solicited for sex by online predators.
You also need to keep your child safe from nasty websites, too much information, cyber bullying and spending too much time on the internet.
Practical steps to safeguarding your child
Talking to your child about the importance of online safety is vital for their safety. Ensure that they understand the importance of keeping their information private and using private passwords. This ensures that they practice safety even when you’re not around to keep an eye on them.
It’s also important to keep the lines of communication between you and your children open. Ensure that they know that they can approach you if there is anything wrong e.g. if they’re experiencing cyber bullying or receiving disturbing messages from unknown sources.
Use content filters
Content filters help you protect your children from coming across content that you deem inappropriate e.g. pornographic material. They act as parent controls. You can set different filters for children of different ages.
You can keep an eye on your child’s online activities by using monitoring tools. This type of software can be installed without the knowledge of the child. It works in the background to help you keep an eye on your child’s activities on social networks and other websites.
Set house rules
Children who spend a lot of time on the internet are at greater risk of becoming prey to online sexual predators. Such children are also more easily exposed to websites with inappropriate content. Lay down the ground rules for use of the internet in the home including what sites they are allowed to visit and the amount of time they are allowed to spend online e.g. allow them to use the internet for school work for no more than 2 hours every day and only one hour on the weekend. Talk about the consequences of breaking these rules with your children.
Step into your child’s online world by getting connected with them on social networking sites. If you prefer to stay out social networking, have them give you access to their social media profiles so you can keep track of their activities and friends.
Ensure that you choose an internet service provider that offers security for your home network. Check the provider’s website or talk to a customer representative to find out more about their policies on security.