12:49 25 November 2019
In fact, many older kids are more clued up than their parents. Unfortunately, when it comes to online safety, this familiarity means kids are often blind to the many dangers lurking in online chat rooms and forums.
The case of 14-year-old Breck Bednar is a classic example of how things can go horribly wrong. Breck was an online gamer. He was befriended by 18-year-old Lewis Daynes and subsequently groomed and murdered. This is a truly horrifying example of how kids can easily come into contact with dangerous predators during their online activities. Thankfully, the Breck Bednar murder is highly unusual, but this doesn’t mean kids are safe when they play online or use social media.
Here are some expert tips to help keep your kids safe online.
Don’t assume your kids are safe when they are surfing the net or updating their social media profiles. The worst thing you can do is give your kids internet-enabled devices and leave them alone for hours in a bedroom with the door closed.
Younger children should only use the internet in a room where the rest of the family are present. That way you can be sure they are not accessing inappropriate content or being groomed by predators.
Have clear rules in place about what sites your kids can and cannot access. Make sure the websites they visit are age-appropriate. Social media sites usually have age restrictions on who can set up a profile. It’s not OK for a 10-year-old to have a Facebook page, even if they think they need one.
Older kids can have more freedom, but you need to make them aware that internet access is a privilege, and if they break the rules, that privilege can easily be revoked.
Internet firewalls for families are useful. Instead of getting into arguments over which sites your kids can visit, install firewall software to block their access to anything you feel is inappropriate. Some software also allows you to set limits on your kids’ internet activity. So, you can have the internet switch off at a set time, which prevents them from staying up late chatting to online buddies.
Kids lack the common sense of adults. They don’t understand the dangers of disclosing personal information online. This is something you need to discuss with them. Explain it in easy to understand terms what happens when your address and other information gets into the wrong hands. Try not to scare them silly but do emphasize how important it is that they don’t post personal information on public forums.
Monitor what information appears online. Google or use people search sites like Nuwber, PeopleFinders, AnyWho, Pipl, etc. to check your name, address, email address, and telephone number against public databases. You can then use an automated removal tool like OneRep to remove your personal information from numerous websites for a fee or simply follow these instructions to opt out from people search sites by yourself.
Encourage your kids to talk to you if they have any concerns, especially if they are the victims of cyberbullying. The more bombastic you are, the less likely it is they will confide in you.
Monitor your kids as soon as they are old enough to use the internet, and where possible, restrict their use as much as possible. Kids need time to be kids before they are exposed to the online world. And once they are online, keep a close eye on what information they post.