The internet is a real treasure-trove of information and entertainment for everyone, with kids being now getting introduced to it from a young age. Naturally, parents are going to worry about kids’ internet and general computer usage as there are some dangers that can be lurking within children’s reach. Online safety must then be a priority for parents and teachers, so they can best equip children with the right tools to navigate the internet safely and smartly. Below are some tips to help kids learn more about the internet and how to stay safe online.
What is the internet?
Depending on how young the children are, you may need to explain what the internet actually is. There are a lot of online guides that can simply break it down. Many adults could also use a refresher as it’s always good to know how things work, from speeds to uses. Hoppy have created a useful video that explains internet speeds so it’s easy to see the impact speed has on everyday tasks. Teaching kids about how the internet was created is also going to get kids interested in science as it showcases a real-life application for subjects such as science and maths.
Children of all ages need to be taught about the websites they can and can’t visit. It goes without saying that the family computer must have parental controls and it should also be located in a place where you can keep an eye on it. Make use of child-friendly search engines that are pre-designed to only return results that are suitable for children’s eyes. Just like children are taught not to speak to strangers on the street, the same should apply to the internet. It’s not always possible to monitor internet activity so it’s important so children to independently understand that they don’t know who they’re talking to online and therefore should not do it.
Teach kids to keep their personal information and pictures private. A lot of websites are now trying to get as much personal data from users as possible, making staying anonymous online very difficult. Full names, addresses, and pictures must be kept private at all times – communicate the dangers of cybercrime in simple terms to give privacy real world context. You can print out a list of the main rules and key dangers to watch out, posting it next to the computer for easy reference and daily reminders.
Using the internet and the computer should a privilege, not a right, and kids need to understand that misuse and breaking of rules will have consequences. Creating an ‘internet contract’ where your child agrees to a set of rules regarding internet usage can help to clarify exactly what is expected from them. Include things like how many hours of usage per day are allowed, certain times, rules about downloads (must ask first, for example), keeping passwords safe, and anything else that’s important to communicate. Be sure to enforce computer bans if the rules are broken so that your child knows you’re serious about them.
The internet is bound to become a part of your child’s life one way or another. It is possible to help your child have a healthy relationship with the internet and encourage learning by following the tips above!