With the unbelievable innovations in technologies, the Internet becomes the main source of information, research, and entertainment for millions of children. On the other side, parents who care about their kids don’t always understand the risks, and thus, there can be many problems with online content that’s not appropriate for the kid’s age and also, moms should keep their loved ones safe from scams, cyberbullying, and even identity-theft that can destroy everything in families.
For your best children’s safety when they access the Internet and browse websites, use this guide, and apply my tips, tricks, and best recommendations. Not all of us know how safe a website is or what we should do to keep our kids safe when on the Web, so, keep reading.
20 ways to keep your child safe when going online
1. Teach them online safety
This is not a one-time lesson that will teach children all the things they need to know to be safe and secure when going online, instead, think about regular tips and information that your loved ones learn. You can use this guide, and each week, focus on one point, explain it, and do some research if you need additional details.
Every single piece of information your kid knows can save his life one day, that’s why, it’s your responsibility to teach daughter and son how to use the Internet with all the issues on websites like Facebook, YouTube, and more.
2. Using a VPN is highly recommended
Even if a teen is good at determining how to use the web, problems and dangers can come from the IP address he uses or the location, so, I highly recommend installing a good VPN tool on the child’s device. The software or the app he adds on Android, iOS or iPhone encrypts the data he sends and receives to the web browser like Google chrome, safari, etc.
Additionally, that keeps the real IP secret and unknown by using a fake one, that way, if someone wants to intercept the data, it will be difficult and even impossible as there are many levels of encryptions.
A child who browses websites using a VPN is safer than others who don’t use it, but it will be better to keep that as a habit, and never access sites without a Virtual Private Network.
3. See who your kid’s friends are
Don’t neglect this step, it’s very important and by knowing the friends of your girl or boy. There are advanced tools for that, you can search for your kid’s name, email, or mobile number and get a complete report with information that algorithms found on public databases.
You can see the kid’s social media accounts, and even relatives you don’t know about. You can expect their actions in real life as in the virtual world over the web. To go further, get a list of your child’s friends on social media like Facebook, which can help a lot, and one day, you may protect your child from bad influences.
4. Say no to social media with arguments
No matter if your child is 5 years old, a teen, or even a teenager, Facebook, and all the related social platforms affect his life negatively in many ways you don’t even think about. I’m not saying that Facebook is 100% black and bad, but even with 2% of the content being about racism, extremism, or bad, it can make things worse in his daily life and future.
Now, think about Facebook as a website like millions of others that people use, and who uses Facebook? Not smart people of course, or at least, a small percentage of them. Facebook doesn’t mean it’s a good website even if Billions of people are using it, there are many issues with privacy and cyberbullying with social media. And if there is a need to use it, limit the time and monitor what they share and do, social media is not as safe as the old days, especially for children.
5. Install a parental control software
Don’t hesitate to install a control parental software on your girl’s laptop or other devices, or use the default functions offered by Microsoft or Apple. On Mac, for example, click on the System Preferences, or the gear icon, then, look for the Parental Controls and open it like the following example.
Next, follow the steps, MacBook Pro, iPad, or iMac will ask you to use an existing account or create a new one, keep in mind that you can create accounts for your child but don’t give them administrator access.
Then, configure the options and choose what you don’t want to allow as access and features for the user. Finally, create a good password that your kid can remember, but don’t use his phone number or email, try a different thing that’s not easy to guess. Windows OS has also a tool that sets up parental controls.
If you prefer using a paid tool, then, try this parental controls software, it works and there are also time management options that reduce time waste. Also, there are options to block adult websites and pages with inappropriate content for your kids’ age.
6. What they do or say online can affect someone’s life
Reading a post on social media, sharing it, or even browsing blog posts or articles about any topic won’t stop there, the actions that the kid takes online could have consequences for many people.
Think about racism, illnesses, social issues, and even religions, when someone got hurt online, that won’t be easy for them, and believe it or not, many kids decided to make an end to their lives because of that, and unfortunately, not all the parents talk about this and explain the negative consequences that a child may cause with no thinking about what’s good and what’s considered as bad online.
7. Encourage the use of privacy settings
Dealing with private data may take time if you mess with it, but what if you have the options to solve the problem from the beginning? Well, websites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and others have built-in systems that allow users, including teems to disable specific sharing of information like email addresses, phone numbers, locations, and more. So, parents can set up all the privacy settings for these sites and make their kid’s profiles safe and more secure.
If you want better ways to secure children’s accounts online, use Two-factor authentication, it’s a way to log in with a password and email, but also, it’s required to type in a code that will be sent to the cell number or email. That way, you add an extra layer of security and block any unwanted access.
8. Tips for easily influenced child
When you have a kid that’s easily influenced, things can be different, and protecting him may need extra time and steps. The kid may not be weak in terms of personality, but very sensitive and emotional, so boys can influence him the bad way, with habits you don’t like. So, think about that, and try solving the problem by talking directly to him or her, and see what they say, and even take them for visits to families you trust to see the interactions with their children. Consider that as a study to understand your kids better and help them.
Talk to the teacher and see what they can do, kids spend lots of time in kindergarten and school, so they may show signs you don’t notice at home. Besides, teachers have the skills to diagnose and treat problems in the right way.
You can get your son away from a bad friend by changing the school, home, or even state, but what if the problem comes from the child who is easily influenced? Instead of complicating the problem, see why that happens and how you can make him stronger in personality and hard to be influenced by others. Try talking about how bad friends can make life worse for others, and that they may hide things when suggesting, talking, etc…
The main idea here is to say to your child, you may be stupid to listen to what every friend says, because he may want to hurt you in many ways.
9. Check their activities from time to time
There is a difference between monitoring your son’s activities when he uses a laptop or smartphone and spying on him. So, build trust with your kid and show him that you may take a look sometimes to see if there is any danger or spying app that’s installed on their devices. They’ll listen to you and understand the risk of using the Internet without control from parents.
Now, even if you trust what your boy is doing, you need to take a step further to protect him, see with whom he talks from time to time, and you may find good and bad friends. Cyberbullying starts from simple things and evaluates to serious problems later because parents are not aware of their kid’s activities on social media sites, YouTube, and others.
10. Location tracking is not always good
There is a big difference between having the location turned ON on an adult’s device and the kid’s smartphone, I understand that parents may enable location tracking to see where their children are, but that’s not all that comes with good results. In fact, hackers can access your kid’s phone and see where he or she is on the Map in real-time, and that’s dangerous without a doubt, especially when people want to hurt kids.
Now, you need to take action, talk to your kid about cellular and GPS location tracking, and show them that when the feature is turned ON, the risk of being in a dangerous situation may be higher. Take their smartphones and show them how to disable location tracking, and how to enable it temporarily. Also, make sure you see what applications they already installed, and see if there is any tool for tracking where the phone is, then, remove it as it will come with many problems you don’t even expect.
11. Not every piece of information online is true
Statistics show that nearly 4% of Facebook active users are fake, also, there are millions of spam posts, profiles by robots, and comments that the system is unable to detect, at least, in the first few days. Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and other sites have fake profiles also, which means that girls and boys are targets for propaganda and dangers…
12. The advertising issue
Big companies spend millions of dollars for targeted advertising that affects what kids eat, drink and wear, so, it’s not an option anymore to let your child click on every ad (banner, photos, or video) he sees on any website. I suggest reading more about the psychology behind online advertising, and you’ll be surprised to find interesting details about how Brands can force children to buy items they don’t even need.
Unlike TV advertising, the Internet comes with tracking tools, or cookies that save all the websites that someone visits and what terms he used to search on Google, next, the algorithms deliver targeted ads that stay for a long time when the child goes online, that directly or indirectly changes his decisions, actions or purchases.
13. Disable smartphone data
There is no reason for letting your kid’s smartphone data or WiFi turn ON all the time, that can open the doors for hacks and online threats because someone may use that as a way to access personal information, accounts, etc… Even more, they can access the smartphone camera and microphone and record what they want. In addition, when there is no need for an Internet connection, it’s better to turn the data OFF for security reasons, and even better, that saves the battery and makes it last longer.
14. When they post something, it will be impossible to remove it
The lie of online privacy can be dangerous for children, and when someone writes something on a website or a platform, the content will be there forever. They may tell you anything they want, but even if you delete the content, chances are, it was already captured, saved, and archived for later use.
Many data centers are built each year and cloud companies invest a lot of money in data, so, the kid may not be aware of that and you can show him that they should think twice before posting online, or at least, it’s better to keep their ideas and thoughts for themselves until they grow up and understand things better.
15. The law is applicable online as real life
Many boys use the Internet and play games, then, they comment and share posts without even noticing that authorities may be monitoring them. Thus, ignoring the fact that freedom comes with responsibilities will be bad for families, and I encourage parents to talk about that. If a child understands that virtual life or sites can be tracked and judged, he’ll think twice before doing anything online.
For example, you can talk about hackers who are in prison because they used the Internet in the wrong way, and no matter if they’re smart or not, there is always a law that we should respect as we do offline. It’s like saying the Internet has eyes that watch what we do.
16. Addiction to games
In 2022, the Gaming industry will be worth $197 Billion, and that comes with real power to influence kids as well as adults on what they play, and of course, that makes them use all the credits to pay for games and addons. Don’t just look for stats, but keep in mind that game developers work with experts in psychology to make kids addicted and pay every month because there are companies with thousands of employees.
On the other hand, you have lots of games that may not be safe for the kid, however, we see lots of them play and stay for a long time. Playing a game that’s all about war, killing, and blood won’t be good for your young boy, and if you think that’s just for pleasure, then, think again, it’s not, and that can easily make him violent and aggressive.
17. Private data should be taken seriously
What’s considered private information for your child? Do you have any idea about what someone can do with a kid’s name, phone number, email, or other details?
Now, fathers as mothers may not be all aware of how much the data cost online, so, they should understand that people may use their kid’s email or numbers they find online and hurt them by hacks, cybersecurity problems, cyberbullying, and more threats. Besides, the kid may don’t even know what private information means and why he should keep it secret when going online or offline.
For that, dedicate an hour and tell your child that the following details are considered private, and he should keep them safe and never share them with anyone they don’t trust.
- His full name
- Email address
- Where their school is located
- What they do every day
- Places they visit regularly
- Cell numbers
- Job and other details about their parents etc…
I know, that’s a lot, but that’s the truth, someone who asks your kid for his father’s job online may hide something bad no one expects, the same thing can happen to others with details about the family. In all cases, teach them that they should not communicate or share their private data with anyone, and if they do, they can put their security and even life at risk. When they understand that, they’ll take the privacy of data seriously and stop giving their passwords and details to strangers.
18. Keep an eye on app installs
Google Play and the Apple store contain millions of apps that satisfy everyone’s need for features, options, and background. This means, good and bad users share the same platform, and that’s not helpful for kids. For that, parents can block access to content, app purchases, and limit the time their kids spend playing games or doing things on their smartphones. You can read more in this apple guide and Google Play article.
19. Talk together and see what they have in mind
Kids may get influenced easily online because they don’t have real friends, and if you add problems in the family, things won’t go well in the long term. That’s why building trust with children and making the relationships stronger in the family will result in a healthy environment they live in and appreciate.
When the mom, for example, talks with her girl and explains things, and understands what she has as thoughts, there will be fewer issues as she has the freedom to ask and get advice from her mom. On the other hand, a child with a broken relationship with his parents may not be able to deal with easy issues in his daily life, and of course when using the Internet or Apps.
20. Educate them to search for truths
When adults want to buy something, they search for online reviews, compare things, and find the truth, that’s what you should educate your kids. Teach them that the Internet is accessible by anyone, and thus, there is no control over what people may say or buy even with limitations, thus, they can search using Google or other search engines and compare things.
Also, make a short demonstration, and show how you can find the truth about something by reading trusted sources online and not getting influenced easily.
When your son sees that in action, he’ll try to copy your strategy and search for the truth about things you may not think about, all that is good and helpful for both sides.
With the above list of tips and tricks, parents can protect their kids when using a smartphone and go online using any device, but investing in security education is always a good way. So, bookmark this page, and show your kid one tip every day, so he gets what’s needed to use the internet the right way and never be the next victim of cyberbullying, hacks, or any other type of danger.