significant amount of their day online. From daylong online learning
sessions to evenings of social media and gaming, children are connected
more than ever before.
For parents, this shift has resulted in an increasing urgency to keep kids
safe while they are browsing the internet. Here are six things you can do
the time your child spends online is as safe as possible:
1. Set some ground rules
A handful of clear
can help stop a lot of dangerous behavior: no posting personal photos,
never share personal information, don’t share passwords (other than with a
parent), never meet up with someone you meet online, and report — and don’t
respond — to any bullying or harmful messages. You can even print and post
these rules near the computer or other devices your child uses to access
2. Keep an eye on things
When your child is using their computer, smartphone, or tablet, have them
do so in a common area so you or another adult can supervise. Keep an eye
on their browsing history and your credit card statements for any unusual
3. Set a time limit
Even in today’s digitally connected world, it’s still
important to create boundaries
— particularly after school hours. The American Academy of Pediatrics
recommends that parents balance free-time activities, and
limit screen time
so that children get plenty of sleep and physical exercise.
4. Form good habits early
Don’t wait until there’s a problem to address online safety. Invest early
in your child’s well-being by spending time together online: browse
educational content, bookmark your child’s favorite websites so they are
easy to visit, and engage in conversations about online content and safety.
Proactive conversations make it easier for a child to come to you
if they do come across content that requires an adult’s involvement.
5. Specifically address bullying
Be sure to spend time
specifically addressing bullying with your child. Cyberbullying is harassment that occurs online, and it is possible for
your child to be both a target and an instigator. Anonymous profiles and
the speed at which information spreads online can make cyberbullying common
in children and teens. Help your children recognize the signs of bullying
and understand the best course of action if they are targeted (don’t react,
block the bully, and report it to an adult). And, make sure it’s clear what
the consequences are if they are responsible for the bullying.
6. Establish a dialogue
Even if you follow every other tip in this article, it’s impossible to keep
an eye on your child’s online activities 100 percent of the time. So start
any effort to protect your children online by
establishing a dialogue: make sure children know you’re there to help them navigate the online
world, that they can bring any objectionable content directly to you, and
that if something seems off, they should check with you immediately.
Access to the internet gives children incredible opportunities: the ability
to socialize with people around the world, access to educational content
not available otherwise, and a virtual environment to explore and establish
independence. Following these six tips will help ensure that experience is
as safe as possible.