The internet is wonderful for children in terms of learning, connecting with friends, and playing entertaining video games. However, the rapid growth of internet access has given rise to online predators, cyberbullies, and creators of videos and adverts that may be inappropriate for younger eyes. To protect your kids from falling into the wrong hands or websites, we have rounded up the top internet safety tips to help your children stay safe online and understand why internet safety is important in a highly digitalised world, ensuring their health and happiness as they grow up.
Internet Safety Tips
Understand the Risks
Firstly, being aware of what type of risks are floating online is crucial for keeping your kids safe online. Even very young children can potentially be exposed to these online dangers – here are 4 of the most common risks that we want to help our children avoid:
1. Inappropriate content
Although the internet is home to a wide variety of excellent child-friendly materials such as cartoons, games, and learning resources, there is also the chance of clicking on a link or discovering a webpage that displays something inappropriate. This could be sexually explicit, violent, immoral, or other kinds of harmful content. Seeing this content could potentially be a bad influence on your children or have a negative effect on them at this early stage in their lives.
2. Cyberbullying and online predators
An important internet safety tip is to be aware of the types of games you are allowing your children to play or the websites they are allowed to visit. Some platforms may involve other gamers or have online chatrooms which allow instant messaging, which could result in inappropriate contact from online predators or hurtful comments from cyberbullies.
3. Malware, scams, and identity theft
This is something that parents need to be aware of on an equal level to their kids’ online safety – the risk of online misconduct in the form of cybercrime. We have all seen pop-ups on the internet promising attractive rewards or claiming you’ve won something. These types of online scams usually lead to malicious software being downloaded onto your device, or fake websites prompting for private information or bank account information.
Although your child may not necessarily know this information, there is still a risk that auto-fill could fill out your details and share them with the web. Malware can simply be downloaded at the click of a button before spreading viruses or spyware to your device, so it is crucial to expose your children to what these types of scams look like when teaching them about online safety and risk prevention.
4. Internet addiction
As children spend more and more time online, their possibility of becoming addicted to the internet grows with them. This could negatively impact your child in several ways, from concentration levels to sleep quality to social isolation. An important aspect of internet safety for children is ensuring they don’t spend an excessive amount of time on digital devices which can affect their physical and mental wellness.
Establish Ground Rules
Parents should make sure that clear guidelines and rules for internet usage are in place when teaching children how to use the internet safely and effectively. Some tips for establishing these ground rules are:
1. Set screen time limits
Being firm about the amount of time your children can spend online per day will have a big influence on their development and could even affect their choices in other hobbies such as playing sports, doing arts and crafts, reading, or interacting with friends. This will give off the impression that entertainment and learning on digital devices are not the only option and remind them the value of face-to-face time.
2. Use parental controls or monitoring tools
A number of parental controls and safety tools are available to help parents monitor their children’s activity online. Consider blocking certain websites or apps that are not child-friendly, or even set time limits for how long a certain app can be used.
3. Create a safe online environment
Spend some time with your child introducing them to age-appropriate apps and websites. You can even set the homepage of your device to something child-friendly such as KidzSearch or CBeebies to reduce the risk of your child finding inappropriate websites or images on search engines, and instead provide them with a safe and educational browsing experience.
Educate Your Child
Of course, the most effective way of teaching your child about internet safety is taking the time to explain it to them in a way they can clearly understand. See below for some tips:
1. Teach your child to recognise and avoid risks from an early age
Once your child has access to the internet, no matter how young they are, it’s important for you to teach them about online safety. Use easy-to-understand language and scenarios that will help them relate and easily identify cyber risks or inappropriate content.
2. Explain why privacy and security matter
As with teaching your kids about ‘stranger danger’, shift this attitude online as well. Make sure your children understand never to share personal information online, or to respond to any messages on virtual platforms.
3. Foster honesty and communication
Encourage your children to come to you or a trusted adult if they are ever in doubt of how to react to things they see online, or if they have any questions at all about the internet. It’s important to make your child feel trusted and secure when it comes to promoting internet safety.
4. Take part in our Protective Behaviours Programme
At Woodland Pre-Schools, we feel a responsibility as teachers to help our children feel safe and aware of the world around them. Our Protective Behaviours Programme is a personal safety curriculum that is taught weekly, empowering children to practice safety both online and offline. Digital Citizenship is an important part of the current programme, where kids are taught how to exercise caution with technology, raising concepts such as self-awareness, self-management, being kind online, and other aspects of online safety.
Learn in a fun and safe environment at Woodland Pre-Schools
The internet can offer a great and effective learning experience so long as you educate your child on cyber safety from a young age. At Woodland Pre-Schools, we are committed to making your little ones’ educational journey fun, exciting, and enjoyable, creating a lasting thirst for knowledge. All our Prep for Primary courses include the Protective Behaviours Programme and work with technology in Digital Citizenship starting from 5 years of age. If you’re interested in enrolling your child in our courses or if you have any questions, please contact us for more details. Free trial classes are also available if you wish to experience our curriculum before making a decision. Find out more today.