The information age has brought with it unparalleled access to information, and the incredible ability to communicate freely with people from all over the world. Few could benefit more from this than our children, exposed as they are to any knowledge about the world that they could ever want to discover for themselves.
However, such free and open access to knowledge and communication has its drawbacks. A child may be na´ve, or otherwise ill-equipped with the perceptiveness necessary to protect themselves from online threats, such as scammers – or worse! On top of that, the addictive nature of social media can lead to the development of problematic behaviour that could lead to very real consequences if left unchecked.
To ensure your child's safety online, here at Swiss International School in Dubai, we've prepared a list of tips that you can use to help protect your child when they're on the Internet.
1. Keep Parental Controls on wherever possible!
Many Internet-connected devices feature parental controls that can steer your children away from malicious sites or harmful content. Make sure to keep these on for your children, and also review the settings and make sure the blacklisted site lists are updated.
2. Teach your children about online safety from an early age
If your kids are old enough to know how to use the Internet, they're old enough to be receptive to safety information. Teach them never to respond to solicitation from strangers, and never to meet up with online friends in person alone. Show them that they should never open attachments from emails they don't recognize. It may be a huge deal for them to absorb all at once, so integrate this safety instruction as you teach them about the Internet and what it has to offer.
3. Encourage proper behaviour on social media and limit its use
Social media is a profoundly useful tool that links people like never before, but it also carries its own toxicity and damaging behaviour. Ensure that your children live by the mantra, 'Don't do anything online that you wouldn't do in person.' Without such a mindset, children may engage in cyberbullying and toxic behaviour without understanding that there are real people behind every social media profile. You should also limit social media use overall for young children, as it can be tempting to just stay there all day!
4. Ensure that they protect their privacy
Tell your kids not to fall into the trap of oversharing on social media, and never share personal information with strangers. For even better security, have them never share any personal information at all, with any kind of person or stranger, without your vetting that act.