An important part of your child’s online activity is educating them about the dangers and responsibilities they have as an Internet user. There are a number of steps that you can take to teach your child to play safe online:
The most important step that you can take to protect your child online is to keep an open communication between yourself and your child about what they are doing online. Talk to them on a regular basis about their online activities, and keep a check on any changes in their behaviour.
Thinking before posting
Children should understand that posting video, pictures or text online will stay on the Internet for a long time, and could potentially be used in damaging ways. Teach them to think before they post anything on the Internet.
Keeping personal information personal
Children should not tell people online details of their real name, age and address. Parents should make sure that their child understands that their home and family should be kept private and that strangers or online friends should not be told anything personal about themselves.
Passwords are secret
Parents should know all their child’s passwords to email, IM and virtual worlds. But, children should also be told that Internet passwords should not be given out to anybody online or in real life.
Talking to strangers
To an adult, managing abusive messages can be difficult and emotionally distressing. But, for a child, it can have even more dangerous outcomes. Children should be told of the dangers of communicating with strangers online, almost in the same way of talking to strangers in ‘real life’. Parents should make sure that their child never meets with any person they have met online without telling their parents. Explaining to them that people online can pretend to be someone that they are not is an important part of Internet education.
Following Age Limits
Just like watching a movie, or playing a video game, many websites have age limits. Children should be made to follow these age limits.
In a worst-case scenario, sending threats online can bring criminal proceedings and cause severe emotional distress to other children. Very young children have had police investigations into their online affairs because of threats and abuse they have posted to other friends. Children may not realise the dangers and effect that these posts are having on other children. Negative publicity and a criminal record resulting from Cyberbullying can stand by them for a long time.