It is no longer a secret that more children spend time online at younger ages, and so it has become extremely important to teach them the rules of internet safety. Children ought to be clearly taught how to protect themselves on the internet just as they are being taught how to handle strangers in face-to-face situations. That the internet is a virtual space doesn’t make it any less dangerous.
Here are ten internet safety tips that can guide children when interacting on the internet.
Preserve Personal Information
You have just met a very nice and fun friend on the internet, and after a while, this person asks you to send personal information, such as your address, telephone number, and parents’ work address/telephone number. This is identity theft. And here is one great article on children identity theft. What do you do?
- Secretly give out these information without your parents’ consent, or
- Ask your parents if it’s safe and okay to share these vital information with this stranger.
Hypothetical questions give children a clearer picture of a situation. They should learn to set high privacy settings so that private information stay private. This will help teach the child that there is a limit to how much information they can share online. It is dangerous to share their name, age, sex, birthday, school’s address etc. on an online internet forum.
Sometimes, unsolicited adverts and content pop up on the screen. Some of this content might be disturbing for a child. Children must be taught not to accept everything they see online, especially if it causes them some discomfort. In such a situation, the child must call a parent’s attention to report the situation. If possible, parents should reward children whenever they report online content that makes them feel uncomfortable.
Children must never agree to meet one-on-one with an online acquaintance without their parents’ consent. They must be made to understand the dangers inherent in hidden meetings. If a meeting becomes extremely necessary, the child must ensure that it’s in a public place and that he is in the company of a parent.
Good Online Citizenship
The internet is capable of encouraging impolite behavior. It also promotes group-think. The temptation is there to hide behind the computer screen and morph into a tyrant. Children have to learn to choose their words carefully and wisely. The guiding principle should be: If it’s too hurtful and inconsiderate to say to someone’s face, then I mustn’t say it online.
The Internet Never Forgets
Before the child posts that image, video or text online, they should know that it’ll live on forever. Delete buttons are not as effective as shares and downloads. Before the incriminating material is deleted from their social media page, someone else might have downloaded, copied and/or shared it with the rest of the world. This is an essential tip for a child’s safety while on the internet.
Children must be restricted when in chat rooms. They must limit their chat buddies to only people they know and trust in real life. Many dangerous people have picked their victims from online chat rooms.
When an email arrives from an unknown person, children should be told the dangers of replying or downloading attachments. Phishing, these may contain bugs or viruses. Even when it looks funny, the safest thing for the child to do is to tell an adult.
Downloads and Uploads
Downloading and uploading material are arguably one of the highpoints of internet browsing. But children must be taught that they need parental permission to go about these tricky tasks. They mustn’t install any software in the absence of a trusted adult. One wrong click can fire off a destructive cannon ball.
Passwords help protect our information from hackers and other online tricksters. Children must be taught to choose very strong passwords. They must avoid obvious details anyone can guess, such as the name, date of birth, name of best friend etc. Strong password often contains a mixture of uppercase letters, lowercase letters, digits, and symbols. Such a strong combination guarantees the safety of all accounts. Again. Each password must remain a secret except to the parents.
Children should pay an active role when establishing rules for going online whether through a computer or a mobile phone. Rules to be set must include specified time for going online, the length of time that the child can browse the internet and appropriate websites the child can visit. The children may argue or disagree at some point, but the parents should endeavor to help them see reason. This will guarantee high internet safety for children.