Protecting Kids Online

Do you feel like the internet is such a wide, unsafe place for your kids to revel in?
This article will give you ideas on keeping your child safe on the internet or what they call cyber safety for kids.

As a parent or guardian, the ultimate responsibility that is in your hands is to protect the children, whether online or not. According to the United Nations International Children's Fund (UNICEF), there are about 80% of children in 25 countries report feeling in danger of sexual abuse or exploitation online.

In the digital world, anyone can have access to your child regardless of who they are. Though your child's online activity can also give advantages for them, we cannot deny the fact that thousands of websites, contents, tools, platforms, and even games can abuse and give them harm.

So, check out the rules, advice, and some tips on keeping your child safe on the internet.

How to protect your child on the internet?

According to the Federal Trade Commission-Consumer Information, here are the ways of keeping your child safe on the internet:

1. Talk to your kids

  • Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying happens when there is harassment happening online. This comes in the forms of texting, e-mail, games, or usually in social media platforms like Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, YouTube, and more. It involves spreading rumors, unauthorized sharing & spreading of personal images or videos, as well as creating pages or groups to make the person feeling left out.

To handle this, the first thing to do is to not react to the bully. Encourage your child to talk to you about it and report it to the school officials or law enforcement if the bullying persists. 

Another thing is to take down your child's personal site or profile, especially if it is made without his or her permission. And lastly, block or delete the bully. All social media platforms have a blocking option to limit and restrict what others have to see on your child's profile. 

  • Talk to your kids

Talking to your kid about their online activity is very important. As soon as your child/children start to access the internet, talk to them about the rules that you set for them, who they are communicating with, what are the contents that they usually watch, and what they are sharing online. Take note, keep the communication going until they grow older and more mature. 

Moreover, talk to your child about what you think is the appropriate thing to do and remind them that other families or friends may different rules, too. Most importantly, listen to what your child has to say. Take note of the things that he/she wants to do online and check it yourself. Talk to them about their online reputation too - how they behave, what are the things that they should share, how to keep their personal information private, and so on.

You must constantly remind them that the internet is not private and that everything that they share can spread to the public without their knowledge.

2. Know the kids' online safety

  • Kids and mobile phones

When allowing your child to use a mobile phone, consider your child's age, maturity, personality, and family's circumstances. It is up to you, as a parent, to decide on whether your kids should start to use a mobile phone or not. 

Next, develop mobile phone ground-rules. Make a decision about when and where your child should use his or her mobile phone. You might also want to practice certain rules for safety, protection, and responsibility such as:

Do you allow calls and texting at the dinner table?

Do you allow using of cellphones during weekdays?

Do you allow using of cellphones during nighttime?

How much time are they allowed to spend on the internet?

What games and websites are allowed for them?

and more.

Most importantly, set an example for your child. Show them that it is disrespectful to use a mobile phone while talking to someone, Or it is illegal to use your mobile devices without a hands-free device while driving. Talk to them about the possible dangers of using such devices.

  • Kids and socializing online

Mobile phones and tablets have cameras now. With just one click, you can instantly share your private videos and photos on any social app or platform. More than protecting themselves, never forget to remind them that other people's privacy is also important. Teach them to get permission first before capturing someone and posting it online. 

Furthermore, teach them good judgment when socializing online. Almost all social networking sites will allow random posting, commenting, messaging, and sharing. As a parent or guardian, you know that most people online are not who they say they are, right? But young people, especially children are naive about these things if they are not taught to be cyber wise from an early age.

Make sure that you know who your child's friends and circle on social media. Make sure you monitor their posts, comments, and messages. This might frighten your child, so make him or her understand the reasons behind your actions. Remind your child that online activities have consequences.

Here the tips that you can teach your child when socializing online:

- Post only things that they are comfortable with others seeing.

- Do not impersonate someone else.

- Remind him/her that once posted, it can never be taken back.

- Avoid sex talk online.

- Help your child understand what information should stay private.

- Practice online manners like courtesies, politeness, and not sending spam messages to everyone

- Use privacy settings

- Create a safe screen name

  • Kids and virtual worlds

The online or virtual worlds can be accessed in a lot of ways like multi-player games, gaming consoles, online gaming communities wherein avatars' activities rely on their users' imaginations. Some virtual worlds intended for children that were made sure that there are built-in privacy and security protections. There are also virtual worlds that are intended for adults but can still be accessed by kids if they find their way in.

If you allow your kids to join this online platform, there are things that the experts suggest for you to do like talk to your kids about where they are going online. Also, talk about how to be socially responsible online — keeping the privacy about their personal information, family members, and friends. You can also talk about them about avoiding malicious and sensual online conversations.

Another thing to do is to stay engaged. How? By checking out the websites that your child regularly visits. Know well what's on the site, how it verifies the site visitor's ages, and how it offers child privacy protection.

Obsession is very common in the virtual world. So if you notice a changed behavior from your child, you are the best person to know what sites can be appropriate for him or her. 

  • Kids' texting and sexting

Sexting or sex texting is sending and receiving sexually explicit content, photos, messages, or videos on a mobile device online or the internet. It includes text messages that offer sex or sex acts,  videos that show nudity, simulated sex, or sex acts, and nude photos.

But why do teens sext? For girls, experts say that it could be out of peer pressure from guys or getting attention. For boys, it could be their way of flirting, looking cool, or becoming popular. That is why it could be hard for them to grasp the long-term effect of this behavior.

If you feel like your child is engaging in this behavior, talk to him or her about how these images, videos, emails, or messages can exist forever in the online community. One sensual message can be easily forwarded to friends, posted online distributed, or printed. Also, an image sent to other people can also be saved and shared with or without permission. 

Teach kids about this line: "What would grandma think?" (WWGT) rule. If grandma shouldn't see it, they shouldn't send it. 

Make it clear to them their boundaries in using their gadgets and the consequences of sexting. be ready to discipline them in using their devices and when to take them away from them.

3. What are parental controls and rights?

  • Parental controls

Parental controls are made available on the internet to put every parent in control of what content your child can see. Combined with the websites or application's privacy settings, these can help you protect your child/children from the things they shouldn't see or do online. 

According to internetmatters.org, more than nine percent of the 5-15s who use parental control software consider it useful. 65% of young people aged 11-16 are in favor of control. And 15% of teens say parental controls and restrictions should only be taken away once they are over 18 years of age.

A parental control application can help you monitor your child's email, texts, social media profiles, impose time limits, filter websites, filter inappropriate contents, track location, and other mobile functions. These will help you see your child's online activity, especially in problematic online situations.

If you have an iPhone or iPad, Apple's Screen Time settings let you manage nearly everything on your kid's iOS device. Android devices also have Google Family Link for kids under 13 years of age. 

  • Kids, Parents, and Video Games

What do parents say about video games? According to a survey, 75% of parents say that they were concerned about their child's safety when playing online video games, and 87% also stated that they found that video games can be educational too. 

As a parent, you have an idea about what is right for the children to do. When your child starts to play video games, there are things that you can do to give them inline safety such as:

- checking the video game ratings to know what kinds of games are your child playing.

- age ratings are also displayed to give you an idea, as a parent, of what ages is the game most appropriate for.

- content descriptions also give you an idea of the details of the game — like violence, sex, language, and gambling — that may have triggered a particular rating. game elements 

  • Protecting your child's privacy online 

So, how do you protect your child's privacy online? As a parent, you have total control over your children's personal information from the companies collect online from kids under 13. Moreover, choose a site that covers the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act to give you consent and allows you to honor your choices about how the information should be used. 

So what are your choices in the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act?

First, it will give you access to the company's plans to use your child's information. If you're not comfortable with it, then you can opt to decline it.

Second, you can choose how much consent you want to give to the site. 

Know that even if you give your child's information, the website operators should need to make sure that you are the parent before providing you access. 

Lastly, you have the right to retract your consent anytime and to request your child's information to be deleted.

How do you teach children about online safety?

To summarize it all, here are the basic guidelines to share with your kids for online safety:

  • Never share or post personal images.
  • Follow the family guidelinnes and those set by the Internet service provider (ISP).
  • Use a screen name.
  • Do not share passwords except with the parents.
  • Never share personal information such as complete name, home address, location, phone numbers, or school name.
  • Never respond to a threatening message, text, email, or post. 
  • Never meet in person with anyone met online without the parent's approval.
  • Always talk to the parents about any online conversation that was malicious or hurtful.

Guideline for parental supervision:

  • Teach your kids the appropriate online behavior.
  • Keep the computers in a common area where you can watch and monitor their use. Do not place it in their bedrooms as much as possible.
  • Give time limits to every use of tablets and smartphones.
  • Check your credit card and phone bills for unfamiliar account charges.
  • Monitor what your kids are doing online and what sites they regularly visit.
  • Teach your kids about the consequences of sharing files and information online.
  • Teach them the  What Would Grandma Think (WWGT) rule.
  • Limit your kids' access to websites.
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