The world is going into lockdown. There is no doubt about this. COVID-19 is ravaging the lives of billions of people. Under the influence of such a fearsome pandemic, everything seems to come to a halt . Nearly all the public institutions that once marked the point of progress for humanity, in general, have been sealed to prevent the spread of this deadly contagion. You can no longer visit museums, walk openly in the public parks, hang out with your friends at the movie theatres, or even go to school. Yes, the educational system has shaken up wildly in the face of coronavirus. Students are now required to stay at home. What about their academic development, you ask? The good thing is that the amazing technology of the internet allows a virtual continuation of the school year.
Humanity persists in the darkest of crises. It is an admirable trait. Research shows around 93% of the children now head online to take classes, collaborate with their peers, and hand in assignments. Coming across such surging demand for fast and consistent connectivity, considerate internet service providers like Spectrum are also playing their part by offering super-fast internet plans at pocket-friendly rates for all families to afford. The internet has gained the status of a proper necessity in these turbulent times, supporting the needs of everyone, including students, and giving us a semblance of progress now that the gears of the world are no longer moving like they used to.
While the internet allows your kids to carry on their schoolwork, it also exposes them to certain dangers, which you as a parent should be aware of and try to keep at bay. What are the possible dangers of the internet for kids? Here are a few contenders:
- Cyberbullies, who can harass your kids online through harmful and mean-spirited communication.
- Phishers, who can pretend to be someone they are not and trick your kids into revealing private, confidential information about your family.
- Child predators, who can sneak into your kids’ social media chats and use an overly affectionate tone to reel them in for sexual or violent purposes.
Besides these, malware-carrying pop-ups, links or files are also present on the internet, which your child might download accidentally, leading your whole in-home network to become infected, compromised, and jeopardized. Worse comes to worst, your children might also see things on the web that they are not supposed to see, like obscene content, gory assault, foul language, drug abuse, or pirated videos, leaving a nasty impression on their minds, and setting your nurturing back by eons. So, the question is: What can you do about it? How can you keep your kids safe online? The following tried-and-tested tips might help you in this regard. Give them a go.
Earn Your Child’s Trust
If you are a parent, you already know that trust is the foundation of your relationship with your kids. Most of the time, children who face online abuse or harassment are too ashamed or too afraid to talk about it. Encourage open communication culture in your home. Sit down with your children and tell them that it is alright to open up and share their feelings, experiences, and everyday incidences on the world wide web. Do not shut them down with disheartening or apathetic remarks, or you will see your kid’s mental health deteriorate day by day. Let your children know that you are there for them no matter what and that you are someone they can rely on openly. Earn your child’s trust before setting them off into the dangerous online seas.
Train for Red Flags
Teaching is an important part of parenting. Just as you tell your kids the difference between right and wrong in the real world, you need to instruct them about the benefits and dangers of the internet. Train your kids to see and report potential red flags online, which can include but are not limited to an anonymous user asking them to share private, personal photos, videos, or information in any way or any form. Show your kids the methods used by cybercriminals for trapping young minds online, and tell them about the necessity of saying ‘no’ to inappropriate requests, no matter how sweet or reliable they may sound. Teach your kids about boundaries and body safety, and the kinds of malware-ridden data they shouldn’t download or open without asking for your verification.
Give your kids the space to grow and implement internet safety rules themselves. If you become a towering, dominating presence that is constantly overshadowing your child’s online activities, then chances are that they will become afraid of you and adopt a withdrawn behavior along with a tendency to conceal their digital profiles. It’s the last thing you want, believe me. So, if you are encouraging your child to trust you, then, perhaps you should also trust them back. It will inspire them to do good online and to communicate with you more easily. On the side, you can always set up privacy restrictions and parental controls, which can allow you to monitor your child’s online activities from a safe distance, block access to suspicious sites, stop auto-downloads from happening and limit their time, etc. Supervise, but secretively.
The internet has a good side and a bad side. While it enables your children to continue taking their classes online, it also exposes them to certain hazards, which you as a parent can look out for and prevent by using the aforementioned tips. You can never be too safe online!