More than two million restraining orders go into effect in the United States every year. A substantial number of these orders are the result of online communications that evolve into instances of stalking. It is difficult to cope with the notion of online predators when you are a parent. The idea of your child’s innocence being the key factor in a stranger’s plans to do harm is difficult to believe. Nevertheless, there are online predators, and you need to take measures to keep your kids safe online.
Know Who They Are Talking To
Your kids will likely need to go online for homework and to, perhaps, communicate with teachers. They should not make it a habit, however, of building relationships with random adults.
A random adult, by definition, is someone that neither you nor your child has met in person. This individual could be someone from a social media site or a person your kid comes across after doing a Google search. On average, Google receives over 63,000 searches per second. It is, therefore, not uncommon for your child to encounter an adult with whom they are not well acquainted after conducting a simple search online.
It is important that you as the parent know who your children are talking to online. The fewer adults your kids converse with, the better.
Limit Internet Usage
You spend all day online because you work from home. Your child does not have a job and, therefore, does not need to spend hours on social media sites. Good parenting includes knowing when your son or daughter is getting too much of what would be a good thing.
Internet usage on the computer should be limited to, maybe, a few hours per day. You may give more liberality to kids with smartphones as it is nearly impossible to operate these devices without a good Internet connection. Still, there are ways to limit usage even on smartphones.
The average mobile phone provider gives tools to parents that allow them to block certain social media sites as well as limit what shows up in their kids’ Google search results. You should take advantage of these perks when protecting your kids from online predators.
Physically Monitor Your Kids
Even with technologically advanced tools that help you limit your child’s screen time, there is nothing like old-fashioned physical monitoring. Standing over your kids to see what they are viewing online sends the message to them that you are interested in what they are doing. Children may not be as quick to visit an adult-only site if they know their parents are likely to walk in and question their activities.
You do not need to stand over your child every time he, or she, logs onto the web. Such behavior may cause them to rebel, which may ultimately do more harm than good. It may be a good idea, however, to physically monitor your kids once a week just to get a sense of what they are doing online.
Teach Your Kids the Rules
There are certain universal rules that sensible adults follow online. First, adults know to refrain from providing their home addresses and personal phone numbers online. Second, the sensible adult understands that an online friendship is not the same as a traditional relationship. It is, thus, rare that an adult will agree to meet with someone they meet online unless the individual has been investigated prior to the meeting.
Kids deserve to know these rules and other precautionary measures you take when interacting online. It is not ideal to give children the power of the web without warning them of the consequences that come with careless behavior. Thus, you should make time to explain the rules of online use to your children before giving them their first smartphone or computer.
Using the Internet has become second nature to kids in the digital era. It is imperative that parents keep their children safe online.