The internet can be a powerful resources for students with access to videos, worksheets, research materials and test papers. They can use the internet to advance their studies, socialize with friends and play games. However, the internet is also fraught with dangers and parents should be cognizant of its inherent pitfalls in order to protect their children from online bullying and predators.
Institute a security policy
Set out a detailed policy of what your children are and aren’t allowed to do, sites that they can have access to and information that they can share online. Be specific; rather than saying that they shouldn’t interact with strangers online, be very specific about the kinds of interactions that are ok and exactly what information they can share.
Check that they don’t share their last names, addresses, schools, birth dates and phone numbers.
Keep passwords safe
Ensure that your children understand that they are never to share passwords, even with close friends. If you aren’t sure that they are old enough to take on this responsibility, set the passwords yourself and only share them when you are confident that your children will keep them private. Teach your children to log off when using public computers and to change their passwords frequently.
Interactions with strangers
Never allow your children to interact with strangers on the net. This is not only limited to social media, but also applies to apps, games and other sites.
Ensure that your children don’t leave tablets, laptops and smartphone unattended when they are out.
Limit site access
Know what sites your children are frequenting. If they want to explore new sites, make sure that you are around and have given them the go-ahead.
Encourage your children to select email addresses and screen names that are not their own so that people can’t easily guess their contact details.
No bully policy
Online bullying is a terrible thing for any student to endure. The public ridicule is often perpetrated by friends or school colleagues rather than by strangers. Discuss bullying and encourage your child to report bullies to you, a teacher or a tutor.
Since some children won’t talk about bullying because they are embarrassed or because they are afraid that action on your behalf will cause embarrassment, discuss ways in which they should deal with bullies. Role play various scenarios to ensure that their reactions to online bullying don’t make matters worse.
There should be a no tolerance policy for online bullying whether your child is the perpetrator or the victim.
Be your child’s public relations manager
Regrettable posts, pictures or comments may follow your child for life. While they may be just joking or perhaps not thinking through their actions, when they post inappropriate materials online, they could be jeopardizing their futures.
It’s your job to monitor their online activity to ensure that they are being respectful of themselves and others.