When your child was younger, you taught him or her how to look both ways before crossing the street, to avoid talking to strangers, and to not touch a hot stove.
Now that your kiddo is a tween or teen, you are still vigilant about their safety, but in different ways. For example, if your child adores spending time surfing the internet, it’s important to teach your son or daughter how to make computer time fun and not dangerous. With that in mind, consider the following tips:
1. Prevent Cyber Crime
You might understandably think that kids are too young to be victims of a cybercrime, but as identity theft protection company LifeLock notes, this is exactly what the bad guys want you to think. Sometimes identity thieves target tweens’ and teens’ unused Social Security numbers and use the personal information to do all sorts of things from opening a credit card account to buying a car or home. In order to prevent this from happening, explain to your kids the importance of keeping their data as private as possible when on the internet. Teach them that if a social networking site or an online game is asking for their name, address and/or any other type of personal data, they should immediately report it to you. Buying an identity protection program is also a good idea; if you already have one, add your child to the policy or start one for the whole family.
2. Avoid Cyberbullying
As Parental Software Review notes, cyberbullying is the most common threat a child has to deal with while on the computer. Tweens and teens who are being bullied online often end up feeling depressed, anxious and isolated. Fortunately, there are email applications like Block Sender that will block unwanted messages from people you do not wish to contact your child over the internet, and you can also set the app to block any email that has a specific word or subject. This way, even if someone is trying to bully your child, your son or daughter will never know since they will never see the message in the first place. In addition, many chat and instant messaging applications allow users to set certain IP addresses and user names on ignore. This can be effective because in many cases if a cyberbully is not getting any response from his or her victim, the bully will go elsewhere.
3. Prevent Accidental Virus Downloading
Tweens and teens can be a bit naïve at times, and will often believe that they are really getting a free video game just for clicking on a certain link or entering a contest with a $5,000 prize. Remind your Internet-surfing child of the saying “if it seems too good to be true, it probably is,” and make a rule that no one is allowed to click on any advertisement without your permission. Explain how doing so can cause viruses and malware to infect the computer, which can render it useless. Letting them know that their actions could lead to not having a working computer at home should hopefully help them resist the urge to click!
4. Keep Temptation at Bay
The Internet is an amazing source of information and fun, but it also has a dark side. To prevent your curious teen from checking out questionable websites, Safe Surfing Kids suggests keeping your computer in a high-traffic area in the home. Use Internet filters and parental controls to make sure your children will not visit unwanted sites, and develop and have your child sign an online rules agreement that specifically covers what is and what is not appropriate for them to do online.
By following these four simple tips, you can teach your children to be more savvy surfers!