How to Teach Your Child to Deal With Online Risks
Online risks are a problem for teens whether we want to admit them or not. There will eventually be a time when a child will be contacted by some online scheme or fraudsters, deal with some level of harassment, install a virus or access explicit material. The Internet is too large to be censored, and teens are going to need Internet access at some point in their educational career. Instead of shying from problems or ignoring them altogether, it is important for parents to understand what the risks are, how they are presented and how to handle situations when they arise. Planning and preparation are important keys for success when dealing with something so personally public as Internet enabled smartphones and computers. No one needs to be a programmer to understand the risks of Internet and smartphone misuse. The same types of problems that face us in day to day life are also present online, they are just amplified. This is why it is important for parents to understand how these problems will be presented to their children so that they can provide their children with the right tools for handling things gracefully while avoiding embarrassment.
The first step in helping your child to deal with online risks is getting an understanding about how your child uses the Internet. There is no one size fits all for every child, so the parent must look at each situation in order to determine what kinds of problems might be there. Check to see if applications and websites have private chat or public chat, find out how it shares images or videos and see what kinds of information is collected and who the information is going to be presented to. It is never a good idea to provide the home address where you and your child sleep at night, and children should understand that strangers are real online as well. Unless you know that you know someone on the other end of an online conversation, kids should never give out personal information or agree to a meeting without a parent’s knowledge.
The next thing parents can do is set up the same types of accounts as their children. Parents can join in on the same social networks, email, cloud drives and Internet games as their children. This will not only give the parent a better idea about what is going on, it will also let them see the kinds of information their children are making publicly available and make any corrections that may be necessary. While it can be embarrassing for one’s parents to be the life of the party, most games and social media sites can provide private chats and competitions that can promote a bonding experience between the parents and the children. Joining the same social networks and playing the same games lets you stay in the know about recent trends and know which topics to address when it comes to staying safe.
Lastly, monitor the smartphones and tablets you provide your children. Smartphone monitoring software will provide GPS locations any time of day and as a parent, you can log in from any web browser and see who your children are talking to, what websites they are visiting, the applications they’re playing and all the text messages they keep texting at any time to make sure that everything is going well. Children may not always give a full picture about what is going on and they might end up in dangerous situations or have some sort of emotional crisis that needs to be addressed. Parental control software will give you the ability to block contacts from calls or texts, restrict your child’s access to websites and applications and block the phone or tablet from being used at bedtime or other times deemed inappropriate. Knowing where your child is and how the smartphone is being used at all times provides the best way for you to help your child in handling tricky situations.