Safeguarding your children

Times have changed!  With many children now spending a vast majority of their spare time on technology – whether it’s playing online games or doing their homework, how do you keep them safe?

While there are many software packages you can buy and parent-friendly routers to limit your child’s internet play, it’s important to educate them on how they can protect themselves and build a framework to keep your children safe. 

What’s right for one child, may not be suitable for another so it’s not a case of one size fits all, however there are some steps you can take to safeguard your children while they’re accessing the internet.

The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule which was established in 1998 goes some way to providing that protection stating children should be kept off social media until they reach 13.  It’s not always easy and some parents do allow it, however guidelines are in place for reason.  As and when your child has their own mobile device, ensure you help guide them the set-up process (more so you know what’s in place and the apps they’re looking to download).  Make sure they have a strong password and if need be, put parental locks on so they can’t just download any app or make instore purchases.

Set a good example.  Kids will follow what they see, so if the see their parents on their devices a lot of the time, so will they.  Avoid having your phone in your bedroom.  Kids are less likely to follow and after all, it’s good to give your brain a rest!

Know what your children are accessing.  Communicate openly and advise them of the dangers of being online and getting caught up in what appear to be innocent chat rooms or games.  However, don’t become obsessed with checking every text message or every app they’re using.  Being open and honest with each other will serve you well in the long run.  Should they run into any trouble online, they’re more likely to open up to you than seek assistance elsewhere (namely online!).

Safety Net Kids suggest following these top 10 tips:

1. Don’t post any personal information online – i.e. address, email address or mobile number.

2. Think carefully before posting pictures or videos.  Once it’s online, it’s no longer yours.

3. Keep privacy settings as high as possible

4. Never give out passwords

5. Don’t befriend unfamiliar people

6. Don’t meet up with anyone you meet online.

7. Remember not everyone who is online is who they say they are.

8. Think carefully about what you say before you post something online.

9. Respect other people’s views.

10. If you see something online that makes you feel uncomfortable, unsafe or worried, leave the website and tell a trusted adult immediately.