We all know and have realized that kids in today’s modern times are surrounded by technology. And since the pandemic, digital education has made usage of the internet inevitable for students. Hence educating your kids/students on how to be safe while exploring the internet is extremely important.
Moreover, as a parent or guardian or teacher you need to be well-aware about online safety, and learn about online child safety laws, before educating them.
You also need to understand that internet safety is not:
1. Excessively monitoring their internet usage
Today’s generation doesn’t like parents or guardians over-interfering in their personal space and that’s what is to be taken into consideration by us as parents. Monitoring is essential however this should not turn into eavesdropping on them, which could create trust issues between a child and parent.
2. Enforcing excessive online/internet restrictions
Internet usage has become unavoidable now-a-days for almost every age group. And teenagers tend to spend more time on social media platforms as it has become a new normal for today’s generation to stay in touch and build relations. Making them aware of the bad side of these platforms is important, however enforcing excessive restrictions may lead to misunderstandings.
3. Limiting internet usage
Directly limiting internet usage may backfire, instead keeping them engaged in other activities or enrolling them into extra curricular activities which do not involve internet usage can automatically limit their internet usage.
4. Forbidding social media usage
As mentioned above, social media usage has become very common for almost all age groups. Friendships, interaction all happen through social media for the younger generation and hence completely forbidding them may not work in your favor.
Here are Different Aspects About Internet Safety to Educate Your Kids
The true meaning behind internet safety is keeping kids safe online while still giving them the freedom to use the internet. As adults, it is essential for us to find a balance between ensuring online safety and letting them explore the resources of the internet.
Ensure to inform them of the risks and drawbacks of the internet world, while also supporting them with the benefits of the digital world.
Since education now-a-days is relying on the internet, it’s crucial that kids and teenagers know what makes the internet off limits.
1. Explaining the Importance of Keeping Personal Information Private
It is very easy to know the lifestyle or friend circle or even day to day activities of kids online as updating stories, or photos regularly exposes a lot more information than we may know. Hence ensure to inform and educate kids about the following:
- Never share personal information like your address, passwords, phone number.
- Only add people you know.
- Never publish anything you wouldn’t want family or future employers to see.
- Don’t upload or update every activity on social media.
2. Teaching How to Safely Use Social Networking Sites
Using social networking sites cannot be completely prohibited for the younger generation in today’s digital world! However teaching them about how to use them safely can make things better for them, such as:
- Adding only friends and people you trust on social media.
- Keeping social media accounts private.
- Not accepting unknown people’s friend requests.
- Never send nudes or inappropriate content to anyone, be it real friends or ‘online friends’.
- Not to use abusive or offensive language or encourage others to use it.
- It is okay for them to report or complain about suspicious or risky activities that their friends might be indulging into.
3. Discuss About Cyberbullying
Over the past decade, cyberbullying has tremendously increased due to the increase in digitization and usage of various online and social media platforms.
The number of kids who fall prey to cyberbullying is frightening, and as a parent or a teacher, it’s crucial that you discuss cyberbullying and ways to maintain a safe digital environment with kids in the following ways:
- Think before you share. Be it anything, you may be putting yourself in danger or hurting the other person or even both.
- If you notice a friend or classmate engaging in cyberbullying, speak to a guardian for help.
- While using a chat room or posting on a public platform, respect others and treat others the way you want to be treated.
As parents/teachers, please remember that it is illegal for a child under 13 to have Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat profiles. Many lie about their age and create a profile on these platforms.
Make sure to have an open conversation about social media safety and the privacy settings.
4. Talk to Them About Consuming Different Content
Various types of content are available all over the internet and as teenagers, they are very vulnerable due to peer pressure, hormones acting on them and several other reasons. Internet safety is also about understanding and differentiating good v/s risky or bad content. Hence being open and making them aware of what is risky/bad content is the key to educating them about internet safety:
- Sexually explicit content- notably pornographic images and video.
- Violent or graphic content- acts of assault.
- Obscene or age-inappropriate content- like foul/abusive/offensive language or drug and alcohol use.
- Downloads of pirated materials- including music or video files.
However, just educating them isn’t sufficient for kids’ internet safety, some supervision is necessary, as the level of understanding and maturity in every child is different. We need to realize this as parents/guardians/teachers and act accordingly with them.
5. Inculcate Engaging Internet Activities
As mentioned earlier, the best way to cut down internet usage for kids is to encourage them for outdoor activities or other extra curricular activities such as painting, dancing, craft etc. However if this seems difficult then inculcating engaging internet activities such as online educational quizzes, introducing them to coloring or sketching activities on your ipad or the computer.; or editing photos for digital storytelling, etc. This way you can let them use the internet in a constructive manner.
6. Encourage Them to Reach Out to You in Safe of Any Trouble
Even after educating them about internet safety, kids tend to make mistakes or follow unsafe activities due to peer pressure, or any other reason. It may create a fear or embarrassment in their minds of disappointing their parents. However, the only safest way out of unsafe activities is knowing it as parents and making them understand that they can talk to you and discuss openly if they are in trouble. Relationships between a parent and child or a teacher and student should also be open and friendly so that the child feels safe and knows that you have their backs. Kids opening up to you is much better than hiding things, and lying to you.
Usage of the internet is inevitable and technology is going to keep on advancing further years after years. Our duty and responsibility as parents or guardians is to mindfully be aware of online activities that are trending and inform kids about being safe around it. Supervising and monitoring them is definitely necessary but holding yourself back from excessive eavesdropping and hurtful punishment is necessary, as it might not always work the way you anticipate.
Last but not the least, have fun while educating them so that kids open up to you, instead of getting scared from you as a guardian.
We hope this article has been helpful in knowing a few basics about how you can educate kids about internet safety.