With the school year coming to a close, summer fun is just around the bend. For kids, summer means freedom and spending time with friends but that extra time on their hands can also mean more time to find trouble and where else but on the internet? Children and young adults have more access to technology than ever before and with that comes the threat of malicious web behavior. Finding the right way to educate kids about the dangers of the mobile web can be tough. The below tips can help you ensure that your kids are using the internet in a safe and secure manner:
- Talk to your kids regularly about how to use technology: Set rules and limits, and keep technology out in the open. Discussing with your children what is expected of their behavior online is just as important as it is in public and should be treated as such. Keeping your home computer and other technologies out in the open is an easy way to make sure kids aren't doing anything online they wouldn't want their parents to know about.
- Learn to avoid clicking links, responding to ads, and opening emails when they come from someone you don't know or appear suspicious. Practicing online safety isn't just for that of your children, but for your computer as well. Taking the time to explore the ways that the internet can be malicious to your hardware will save you some heartache down the road.
- Educate your children on the dangers of cyberbullying: Kids should never share their passwords and should learn to log in and out of a computer so that no one might impersonate them, even as a joke. They should feel comfortable coming to you if they are feeling threatened by their peers online and, just as importantly, should know the consequences of being a cyberbully. Regularly discussing the parameters of bullying with your child should leave them with a clear understanding of what it means to be bullied, be a bully, and how to respond.
- Talk about what it means to have an "online reputation:" The term "online reputation" is used for all the information available about you on the Internet, whether through conducting a search or by viewing your profile on a social network. The composite portrayal of you can often times tell a different story of who you really are and children are not privy to how they can accidentally self-sabotage their academics, careers, and relationships. Setting privacy settings, parental controls, and having a regular discussion about what it means to post something the internet should keep online reputations on the right trajectory.
- Establish a line of communication: It's also important that they know if they can talk to you when they make an online mistake, like falling for a scamware alert, downloading something dangerous to the computer, or even when they're being bullied. Many kids are savvy enough to realize when they've downloaded a virus or have encountered a bully online, but few are comfortable admitting it to their parents.
The internet offers many opportunities for learning and social activity, but improper use has its potential dangers. Safety is about awareness, so be conscious of what your kids are doing on the internet and how to educate them about staying protected online.