The internet comes with unending possibilities, making life easier for everyone connected to it. It has penetrated every sector of life, including education, and the young ones are not left behind, According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, today’s children (teenagers especially) spend 7+ hours on entertainment media, which includes phones, laptops, television, etc.
However, everything that has an advantage also comes with some disadvantages and the internet is no exception. While it can be fun, there can also be pain for us and our little ones.
Technology has become a daily part of a child’s life, as they use it to communicate with friends and family and also for schoolwork. It is integrated into their lives and has a way of impacting them either negatively or positively, depending on how safe and appropriate it is for them.
The only thing that can keep them safe and help them use the internet well is taking heed and having security measures and practices that make the online space safe.
What is Online Safety?
This is the act of protecting yourself and your family against harm when using the internet. This can involve safeguarding your computer from viruses, phishing scams and safeguarding yourself and information from cyberbullying, theft and other threats.
A report by DoSomething.org and ZipDo shows that children are getting more involved online as 95% of 3–4-year-olds access the internet for an average of 8 hours per week, 27% of children 7–17 years old have encountered harmful content online, and 37% of children between the ages of 12 and 17 have experienced cyberbullying. In addition, the likelihood of girls engaging in cyberbullying and becoming victims of it is higher. Hence the need for online safety measures to be always practiced.
To ensure that the online space is secure for children, everyone must come together and play their part, including the kids themselves, to protect what they see, the people they meet, and what they do online.
The first agent is the internet itself. When it was created, it was an exciting world of possibilities, which it still is, but over time it began to get polluted by harmful information and people.
Google Features and Applications That Aid Online Safety for Kids
When the tech giant Google noticed the kind of harm the internet was causing, especially to the young ones, it decided to create features that could protect them. Some of these features are:
- SafeSearch: This function aids in removing pornographic content from search results.
- YouTube Kids: This kid-friendly app offers a secure and curated video-watching experience.
- Family Link: This app enables parents to regulate their children’s screen time, approve apps, and view their kids’ search histories.
- Be Internet Awesome: This initiative educates children about web safety and good online behavior.
How Parents Can Help Improve their Children’s Online Safety
Apart from the internet, it is the job of parents as caregivers to help prepare their children for their digital future. Parents should not underestimate the important role they play in teaching their children about online safety, as whatever you teach a child mostly stays with them for life. Parents can do this by:
- Educating your children on online safety: Establish ground rules for online use by explaining the dangers of online predators, cyberbullying, and inappropriate content. It covers things like screen time restrictions, approved websites, online chat partners, etc.
- Monitoring your children’s online behavior: While this does not require you to spy on them, you should be aware of what they are always doing so you will know how you can protect them from dangers that are online.
- Putting parental controls in place: There are several parental controls available that can assist you in removing objectionable information and limiting access to websites. Make use of family link and SafeSearch
Safety Rules For Kids
Children have one of the most vital roles as this affects them directly. After they are Informed about potential dangers in the internet world, they need to be ready to take it seriously and protect themselves for the change to happen.
They can do that by:
- Not giving out their location
- Making their passwords inaccessible
- Not sharing personal information online
- Refusing to send pictures to strangers
There is no doubt that children are the future of tomorrow, and whatever they engage with at a young age can make or break their future.
It’s critical to keep up with the most recent dangers to online safety because the internet is a wide and dynamic environment. If we all work together, we can help make the internet a safe space for our young ones.