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Online safety for your kids – #saferinternetday

Today, on Safer Internet Day, we thought we’d share some tips to keep the kids safe online and on their mobile devices. The internet is a wealth of information and entertainment. Your kids have never known a world without it and rely on it heavily, from computers, smart phones, and tablets – they know it all! Sometimes it can seem they know more about it than you, and they’re certainly picking up more at a very young age.
Safer Internet Day 2014 - Cybersmart

Here are some tips to make sure your kids stay safe when using the internet:

1. First and foremost, set some ground rules about what they should and shouldn’t be doing online. You could make a list of 3 ‘Dos’ and 3 ‘Don’ts’ with your kids and stick it near the computer. Remember it should apply to their usage of mobiles and tablets too.

2. Check your parental control settings to ensure your children are safeguarded from stumbling on inappropriate websites and content. You can do this in various ways; there are options in Windows, or software such as Net Nanny. Do your own research on what’s best for your family.

3. Educate your kids about what is appropriate to share online. This goes beyond just sexting or sending photos. Teach them about ‘stranger danger’ online and ensure they don’t share their personal details such as address and phone number. Make sure they understand the personal and security settings of websites and social networks so they’re not sharing more than they mean to.

4. Supervise your kids’ online activity. This doesn’t mean you need to be watching over their shoulder or reading their private messages. Having the computer in the living room or another communal space can limit them doing anything they might feel unsure about. Talk to them about their activity online so they feel comfortable asking you about anything that might seem untoward, or negative experiences they might have online.

5. Teach your children about cyber-bullying and encourage them to stand up for themselves should they become a target, as well as tell you and their school about it. Help your kids to understand reporting and blocking features of the various social and mobile networks, so they’re able to manage bullying and inappropriate content.

6. This is not specific to the internet, but it helps to teach your kids respect for other people. As we all know, some people can act completely different online to how they would in real life. The old adage ‘If you can’t say anything nice don’t say anything at all’ extends to email, text, Facebook message or any other online communication.
Baby having video chat on laptop

It’s not all scary though, here are the top 4 things we love about the internet for kids:

1. Keeping in touch with distant family & friends
We all know how hard it is to have to move, and it can be particularly hard for children to have to start at a new school and make new friends. Their transition can be easier when they’re able to easily video chat with old friends or a trusted relative; it can be a great confidence boost for them. Not to mention just plain fun and a great way to keep in touch.

2. Learning through playing
There are endless opportunities for kids to play games online and many of them are also educational. They can learn colours, numbers, and reading skills, help to improve social skills, and improve their fine motor skills using a mouse and keyboard.

3. Keep them busy
Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Instead of tearing your hair out on roadtrips, give the kids a tablet or mobile device loaded with videos, music, and games you’ve selected for them and travel in peace!

4. Education
Most classrooms have computers and, increasingly, tablets to support your child’s education. Few homes are without a computer these days and the wealth of information online is amazing. An internet connection is a link to a global library on every topic at your fingertips! Just be sure to teach your kids that not everything they see online is true.


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Image: futurestreet/Flickr

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