We have all heard horror stories of someone’s child thinking they’re meeting up with a friend they met online, only to find the person is well into their 30s with bad intentions. Cyber and internet safety is critical for parents with young children. Worry less about what your child is doing on their device by teaching them at a young age how to appropriately interact with the technology and the things they come across online.
Explain Phishing to Your Children
Phishing is when you receive a fraudulent email or message disguised as a reputable business or person containing harmful links to gain personal information. Children won’t know about this or how to check if any messages they’re getting contain phishing tactics. Explain to them why they shouldn’t click on every link they receive in a message—if they’re unsure whether the link is reputable, they probably shouldn’t click on it to be safe. They should always double-check the name and spelling of the sender to ensure it’s from someone they know and not a stranger.
Never Share Passwords
Another big safety concern is when your child shares the password to their social media and phone with their friends. In addition, passwords should not be easy to crack and should contain upper and lower case letters, numbers, and special characters. It takes sharing your password with the wrong person one time for them to steal information or use the passwords as a harmful way to cyberbully your child or others. They should only share their password with you and your partner so that you can monitor their presence online.
Hold Off on Social Media
If you’re deciding when the right time to get your kids a phone is, you should also discuss if you will allow them to use social media. Using an electronic device is much different from creating an account on Tik Tok or Instagram. While your child might be ready for their own cell phone, that doesn’t mean they’re ready for social media and the consequences that come with it. We recommend holding off on social media until their further into their teen years so your child understands the dangers of it.
Create a Written Agreement
It sounds silly to create a written agreement, but when you write rules down on paper, and they are constantly visible in your home, your kid is likelier to follow them. Plus, posting this agreement on your fridge allows others watching your kids, such as grandparents, to understand your rules. Things to include in your agreement are giving you their passwords, never opening messages from unknown senders, never agreeing to meet someone they find online, and telling an adult anytime an instance occurs that makes them uncomfortable.
The internet and the devices we use can become dangerous for children if they don’t take precautions. As a parent with young children, it’s your responsibility to teach them cyber safety and ensure they are safe with their devices. Other tips you might consider include setting time limits for device usage, never leaving your device unattended, and using parental controls just in case.