Internet safety tips are everywhere, but does your child take them seriously? As a parent, you have a lot on your plate. Still, one of your most important responsibilities is learning how to explain internet safety to a child in a way they understand. These simple ideas will help you ease into the conversation and teach your child how to appreciate privacy and make good decisions online.
1. Set Basic Rules
One of the best ways to protect your family’s privacy online is to set rules for any of your kids who want to use the internet. Explain to them that sharing more online means they are more vulnerable, so it’s important to stick to a screen name instead of their real name. You can teach them that keeping their personal information safe can help them interact with online spaces more responsibly.
You may also want to set rules for social media usage. These rules could sound something like this:
- Only add or follow people you know.
- Have everything on your account set to private.
- Have your parent added to your friends or follower list.
That way, your child can experience the freedom of posting on social media, but you’ll still know that they’re as safe as they can possibly be. Depending on their age, you may make stricter requirements, such as having you on their private social media accounts so you know who they are interacting with.
2. Run Through Dangers With Them
As your child grows up, they’ll likely venture into more of the internet. What may start as a few learning websites as a child might evolve into social media, where it’s a little more difficult to ensure your child’s safety. Once your child is old enough to understand the dangers of being unsafe online, you can talk to them honestly about it.
Explain that people aren’t always who they say they are, so retaining some level of privacy is vital. Depending on their age level, you might go into some true stories about what happened to people who were unsafe online. Your goal shouldn’t be to scare them, just to teach them more about the ramifications of not being safe. With any luck, they’ll understand how big of a necessity online safety is.
3. Explain the Power of Influence to Them
Social media can influence people more than they’re willing to admit sometimes. When you’re constantly exposed to something, it might start to invade your thoughts or the way you talk. Sometimes this new information can improve your life or teach you something you didn’t know. However, it might also have detrimental effects.
Social media can greatly impact substance abuse, both in adults and youth. Your teenager
needs to know how to make decisions for themselves and do research rather than give in to peer pressure. Try to instill confidence in your child to trust their own decisions and not just follow the crowd. It will help them through peer pressure and beyond.
4. Take a Course on Internet Safety Together
Once your child expresses interest in opening social media accounts, you could have them take an internet safety course online. This option works perfectly if you don’t know how to explain internet safety to a child but still see its necessity.
You can encourage them by taking the course with them and learning about internet safety for parents, allowing you to become well-versed in everything regarding the online space. Once they’ve completed the course and understand what they should and shouldn’t share on social media, you can let them sign up.
5. Introduce Them to Strong Passwords
Creating strong passwords is one of the greatest internet safety tips you could pass on to your child. When you use the same password for every website, sensitive info is at risk when a data breach happens or a hacker guesses a password. Encourage them to create or randomize a password of at least ten characters, as a longer password is safer than a shorter one. They should also use various uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols.
6. Spend Time Out and About
Sometimes, talking to your child about internet safety tips in an informal setting might feel
easier. You don’t need to have a sit-down talk to teach some kids about internet safety tips. Treat your child to something fun you don’t get to do often.
Charleston’s Magnolia Plantation and Gardens features the oldest garden in the United States, and since it holds so much (like a theater and cafe) you’ll have plenty to keep you busy through the day while intermittently talking to them about these important topics. Your child may also feel more open to listening to you once they have a day full of fun.
7. Build a Relationship of Trust
One of the best ways to ensure that your child will come to you with any issues and tell you if something bad happened online is to ensure that your relationship with your kid is built on trust. As they get older, trust in your child matters more because they’ll be making so many decisions for themselves as they prepare for adulthood.
Teach them from a young age that they can come to you with anything, and in turn, you won’t be mad at them. What matters most is that they feel comfortable talking to you about their experiences and vulnerabilities. That way, you’ll be able to protect them better online.
The Importance of Internet Safety Tips
Your child won’t inherently know what to do on the internet. Until they reach a certain age, you may want to monitor how much they’re online and the kinds of websites they visit. Teaching your child internet safety tips from a young age will teach them how to be safe online and give them more privacy because you know they’re keeping themselves and their family safe.
Learning how to explain internet safety to a child is one of the most important things you can do for them as a parent. You love them, and you want to prioritize their safety. When they’re older, they’ll likely thank you for prioritizing their security and privacy.
About the Author
Beth is the Managing Editor at Body+Mind. She writes about parenting, mental health, and nutrition. You can find Beth on Twitter @bodymindmag. Subscribe to Body+Mind for more posts by Beth Rush.