The internet is an amazing resource for children, but it can represent a worrying unknown for parents. We worry about what or whom our children may encounter online, and how we can protect them.
As parents, it's important that we don't let our concerns and preconceptions about the internet take this valuable resource away from our children. With nearly half of UK parents (46 percent) surveyed in a recent Norton study admitting to worrying that they don't know what their children are doing online, it's important that we learn to manage our children's online experience in a safe and controlled way.
It's important to foster a culture of openness with your children. Teaching them to stay safe online should be an ongoing conversation, allowing you to introduce basic ground rules, and for your children to share any concerns, feelings and issues that they are experiencing.
Below are our top pieces of advice to help your children enjoy the internet safely:
1. Teach young children to use strong and unique passwords across all their accounts and never to share passwords, even with their friends. We're seeing account theft (a junior version of identity theft) happen to children in primary schools.
2. Set aside time to discuss House Rules with your children about online communication, illegal downloading, and cyberbullying. A decrease in negative online experiences is closely linked to households where there is an open dialogue with children about online safety.
3. Discuss risks and concerns about posting and sharing private information, videos, and photographs. A key thing to remember is everything posted online is a digital footprint for your child and can never be erased. As parents we need to ensure our kids are not posting content that they will regret when they got older, as it becomes increasingly common for companies to scour social media before hiring an employee.
4. As the parent, don't become the enemy, become the friend - be aware that children like to imitate your behaviour so teach them the best way to surf online safely and lead by example to provide them with a positive role model.
5. Teach your kids to think before they click - whether they're looking at online video sites, receiving an unknown link in an email or even browsing the web and seeing banners or pop-ups, remind your child not to click links which may take them to dangerous or inappropriate sites. Clicking unknown links is a common way people get viruses or reveal private and valuable information to criminals.
6. Ensure you use trusted security software on all of your household's devices, from tablets to smartphones, laptops and desktops.