Children live intertwined lives on the internet and in the physical world. Their identity is strongly shaped by both and you should have an awareness of each world so you can protect them and stay involved. Online threats aren’t as glaringly obvious as those you may see in your neighbourhood or their school, but they are just as serious.
Be aware of the negative aspects of the internet, including cyberbullying, identity theft and online stranger danger. Read on for tips on how to keep your children safe and how you can monitor your children’s online activity:
Threats in the Online World
In 2014, 25 percent of teenagers reported that they had experienced repeated bullying through their mobile phone experienced repeated bullying through their mobile phone or on the internet, according to NoBullying.com. Cyberbullying is a prevalent issue that oftentimes goes unnoticed by parents. Kids feel they can deal with it on their own or that the issue isn’t “real” enough to bring up to adults. School administrations have little jurisdiction over cyberbullying incidents, as it generally occurs off school grounds. It is your responsibility to talk with your kids about cyberbullying and let them know that they can come to you if they ever feel threatened, abused or tormented online.
Another major online threat is identity theft. There are con artists that attempt to steal your family’s information through pop-up ads, fake competitions and phishing emails that are geared toward kids. Make sure your children know that they should never give out their personal information online, even if they think they know the individual.
Protection Methods and Tools
If you’re worried about your children’s online security, check out software programs that are made for parental monitoring. Parents Magazine has a list of apps that help you monitor your children’s online activity and send you notifications whenever there are threats from a cyberbully, access of inappropriate content or potential stranger danger.
For example, the GoGoStat app lets you see posts from your kids that contain any vulgarities or mention of drugs. You can see when your children post photos online, even if their profiles aren’t public, and you can monitor their friend activity to ensure that they aren’t interacting with strangers. You also can set up parental controls on smartphones like the LG G5 to make sure they aren’t accessing sites you don’t approve.
Honest and Open Communication
Sit down with your kids and have an honest talk about their digital life. Let them know that their online activities have the same repercussions as their real-life actions. Teach them about the responsibility that comes with internet use and how they can be aware of potential threats.
Let your children know that you only have safety apps on their phones for their protection. Exercise restraint with the apps and make sure you only check them when there is a red flag or a notification, so your kids don’t feel like you’re spying on them. You can even choose an app with your child and talk about the features of each, so they understand what the app actually does.