Children of all ages love using the computer, with many kids learning to navigate the internet from their earliest days, through exposure at home and school.
Even if you feel your youngster may be more adept at surfing the web than you are - and let's face it, your three-year-old probably learned to use a tablet at the same time you did - it's of paramount importance to put safety rules and measures into place before allowing your child independent access to the World Wide Web.
According to Andrew Rogoyski, Vice President of Cyber Security Services at CGI UK, the main online dangers parents need to be aware of are people masquerading as children and forming inappropriate and hidden relationships with a child, as well as criminals acting to defraud, run scams, or clone an individual's identity.
He also warns of unscrupulous companies getting children to sign up to paid services and urges parents to explain to their kids about inadvertently exposing private and sensitive information to the public.
Technology that suddenly goes on the fritz is also something to watch out for - if your computer starts to slow down, that can be a sign there is malware on the system, which can wreak all kinds of destruction, from erasing all of your files to capturing online banking details.
"There are plenty of services and software that promise to keep your child safe online. None of them are substitutes for good parental supervision and knowledge," Rogoyski says.
Before allowing your child online, establish some ground rules: "When and how long they have 'screentime,' what applications they can use, what you, as parents, expect to have access to and what punishments will be imposed if problems occur. Such rules can be difficult to impose on mobile phones so think about how your child is going to use mobiles."
It's key for parents to understand how their children are using technology and social media (and not just on the home computer but on mobiles, gaming consoles, smart TVs and tablets). Stay safe by enforcing privacy settings on social media and making sure your child is only interacting with people they know.
Rogoyski recommends that parents check websites like www.cyberstreetwise.com and www.getsafeonline.org to get tech-savvy and learn about installing security software and strong passwords to prevent hackers. Those websites offer detailed information on topics from online gaming to preventing identity theft so parents can assess risks and take precautionary measures.
It's important to explain the risks of being online to children before they've begun to trawl the internet. Parents should educate children about filling in personal information (required for competitions, etc), responding to pop-ups, being aware about the photos and messages they post (which can be found even if they've been deleted) and the dangers of meeting strangers online.
Most social media websites (Facebook, Instagram, etc.) have a minimum age of 13, while WhatsApp requires users to be 16 and Vine has a minimum age requirement of 17. These minimum age requirements can be breached, which is why parents need to be vigilant in monitoring their children's internet use.
Minormonitor.com helps parents track their children's Facebook and Twitter accounts, allowing them to stay ahead of any potential issues involving bullying, drugs and sexual references.
Apps can also give parents power over their children's digital lives. K9 Web Protection Browser is an internet filter and parental control software which blocks websites in over 70 categories and Net Nanny is another customisable filter that lets you block porn, profanity and other undesirable content.
Mobicip is a popular choice to ensure your children are only exposed to age-appropriate content. Think of it like a Safari that bans restricted content and puts a time limit on internet usage.
Yet another factor that puts children at risk online? Old software.
"Keep your technology software up to date, so apply those software updates as soon as they become available, on phones, TVs, PCs and tablets. Be aware that older technologies often stop being supported, so won’t get updates," says Rogoyski.
"You’re leaving yourself vulnerable by staying with old technology. PCs and laptops can be given a new lease of life by using Linux instead of Windows or MacOS - it takes a little learning but it’s free."
A fun way to teach kids about online dangers and safety precautions is with The Cynja, a book series about a cyberspace superhero fighting digital baddies (which has the added bonus of getting parents up to speed on all things techie).
"Encourage positive use of these technologies," says Rogoyski.
"If you can get your child interested in areas like programming, digital art, game design, music production, film making and writing, to name but a few areas where technology excels, then the darker side of the internet will be much less of an issue."
SUBSCRIBE AND FOLLOW
Get top stories and blog posts emailed to me each day. Newsletters may offer personalized content or advertisements.Learn more