With the prevalence of technology in our society, children are getting online more and more. Many children, even those in elementary school, have cell phones, tablets, and computers. Children are in danger of a multitude of online threats and often lack the experience to know when they are in danger. As a parent, your first objective is to make sure your children are safe, but you likely also want them to be adept at using technology, as they will need those skills in their future education and careers. Fortunately, there are ways to keep your children safe from online threats while still letting them enjoy what the internet has to offer.
Children with Phones/Tablets
It’s a heated debate as to the appropriate age for children to get phones and tablets. You will have to consider your children’s maturity levels and your family’s situation to decide when they are ready for these devices. According to WebMD, 85% of teenagers have a cell phone, 69% of kids aged 11-14 have a phone, and 31% of kids between the ages of 8-10 have a phone.
Pornography is likely a parent’s biggest fear when their child is online. According to Utah Addiction Centers, because the internet has made access easy to almost anything you can think of, pornography has spread across the world like wildfire. Pornography is now readily available to almost anyone who wants to view it. Additionally, child predators, who often masquerade as a young child, are also a severe threat to your children online. It is essential to talk to your children about the danger of pornography and predators. Your child should never give out personal information or send pictures to someone on the internet. They should also know to come to you if anyone ever makes them uncomfortable. Make sure to set the parental controls on your children’s devices so that they do not stumble upon unwanted sites, and if needed, set up some type of home security for them.
Many people don’t think of children as victims of identity theft, but anyone is susceptible, including children. One study showed that 10% of children had their identities stolen. Make sure your children do not enter personal information online without getting permission from you. If you are concerned, you can also freeze your children’s credit reports.
Children love to get new apps, and young children do not often realize which apps of them are free and which of them cost money. Apps also often have in-app charges that your children may accept. It is essential to set password controls on all purchases and downloads for your children’s devices. Your children will then need your permissions before downloading anything on their phones or tablets.
Remember that above all, the most effective way to keep your children safe online is to monitor them when they use the internet, and to aim to have a secure connection, in addition to simply having genuine conversations with them on why you’re taking so much caution with their internet usage. With the proper precautions, your children can have a fun and educational experience online, and you can rest easy knowing they are safe.
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