Worried about keeping your family safe online? Take a look at Juggle Street’s essential information to help protect young children when in the cyberworld.
Love it or loathe it, the Internet is here to stay. So, of course, you want to steer our children clear of the dangers that come with it. These perils range from harassment to cyberbullying, to children being stalked or ‘groomed’, that is befriended for the purpose of sexual contact. Yep, scary stuff – and this is even before they’re old enough to get social media accounts.
The temptation can be to throw your hands in the air and cloister them away from Internet access – but banning a child from using the internet is not a good long-term option. It could ostracise your child from their peers – and they will almost certainly find ways around the ban. You’d also be removing an increasingly important learning resource and research tool, one that is already embedded in today’s education system.
So, this is the most important information you need to teach your children.
Sadly, today’s kids need to face the disturbing reality of this fact for their own safety. Explain that on the Internet it is easy for people to create false identities and lure children into dangerous situations and to always be wary. Ensure that your child only makes contact with people they already know.
They need to tell you of any unwanted contact or if something has upset them
You cannot emphasise this to them enough. Teach, no, drill, into your child that they must tell you if they are approached by a stranger online, such as anyone asking to meet them in person, of any cyber-bullying or abuse, or of any content they have been sent that makes them feel distressed or uncomfortable.
Keep an active eye on what your child does when connected to the Internet and always know who your child is communicating with online. This is easier to manage when you keep the computer in a public part of the home, not in their bedroom.
Set strict rules for usage: when they are allowed to go online, bookmark sites they are allowed to visit, what is okay to share and to always address others with respect. If you are going out, remember to brief your babysitter or nanny, or any carers such as grandparents, of your family’s Internet rules to keep children cybersafe when you’re not around.
Explain why we always keep our personal information private and they should never provide their full name, address or any passwords – ever. Show them how to configure privacy settings and ensuring that they are set to the highest privacy option on all apps and devices.
It’s important to take special care when using search engines. Your child’s search may inadvertently stumble across inappropriate, disturbing or illegal material. Installing safety software on your computer and on your server so will help filter unwanted material. You will need to have this set up, particularly if you have older children who will often seek out adult content. Talk with your Internet Service Provider for more information about safety software.
Teach your child to be wary of phishing scams. Show them how to determine whether a message or email asking for private information, or money, is fake.
Educate your kids from a young age that sharing information online is not anonymous and that their activity is permanent. Whenever they visit a website, share content, post or upload information, they are adding to their digital footprint. This can be gathered under their real name and accessed by interested parties such as future employers or marketing companies. This may occur without your, or your child’s consent or knowledge.
Lead by example and make sure you check with your children before you upload photos of them online. Remember your digital footprint is permanent, and your kids might be embarrassed by the photo or it could go viral and lead to unwanted defamatory comments. Read more about how high school kids feel from their perspective in this article on The Guardian by Grace Lagan.
Do not personally respond to the unwelcome person. Report any concerning contact to the relevant authority. This could be your Internet Service Provider (ISP), your child’s school, in cases of cyberbullying or harassment by another child, or the State or Australian Federal Police (AFP). Keep a record of all contact for as they may be used as evidence. Use privacy settings to block the person from making further contact.