In today’s world children don’t just grow up at home, they grow up online. As soon as they can type, they will want to connect with their friends on social media sites and surf the web. But with a greater online presence comes a greater need to protect our children from cyber bullying, predators, and identity theft. A recent study reported that one in five children will experience cyber bullying before they graduate from high school. Knowing the different types of bullying can prepare you to handle the effects of bullying should it happen to your child.
You can ease some of your worries as a parent by educating yourself on ways to protect your children online with a few helpful tips:
- WATCH AND LEARN: It is recommended that you keep tabs on how your children use their devices, and what sites they visit – don’t be afraid to check sites or apps before your kids go online. Familiarise yourself with the social media sites your children use and who they are connecting with. The more knowledgeable you are about where your children frequent, the more effectively you can recognise signs of cyber bullying and execute parental control.
- JOIN THE SAME TEAM: Show your children you have confidence in their abilities to use their devices responsibly. Incorporate their ideas when you work with your children to establish rules about usage and Internet safety.
- EDUCATE AND EXPLAIN: Communicate why online safety is important and why it’s dangerous to post personal information on the Internet. ‘Oversharing’ can lead to identity theft or fraud, even for a young child. Be an example to your children and make sure your social media profiles are set to private. As your children get older, explain why social media settings should never be open to the public, as information and photos are accessible to anyone. With some parental control and guidance you can prevent your kids from experiencing the effects of bullying.
- BUILD TRUST: Discuss examples with your children about online threats and comments, and ask if they have ever experienced any aggressive behaviour while being online. It is recommended that you constantly discuss with your children the benefits of communicating online and offline problems. Open communication makes handling the different types of bullying and related issues much easier for parents and children alike.
It’s vital to proactively screen your children’s online accounts to prevent them from becoming a victim to online threats and ensure their safety.