Internet access is a blessing and a curse for most parents. While their
children can research schoolwork, play games, socialize with friends and
keep up to date with news, the internet also harbours dangers that many
parents don’t know how to control. Whether it’s monitoring
the content your children have access to, protecting their identity or
preventing cyber bullying, there is much you can do to protect your children
on the net. Make sure that you and your children know the dangers of the
working on the net and how to be safe.
Explain to your child that passwords or personal information is private
and is not to be shared with anyone on the net. Passwords are never to
be shared for any reason. Sharing personal information or information
on what they will be doing today should be reserved for face-to-face interactions
with friends and family members.
Encourage your children not to chat with people on the internet that they
don’t know. This includes accepting strangers as friends on social
network sites. Where possible, it’s best that you are on all your
child’s social networking sites so that you can monitor what they
are posting for safety.
Children should avoid using their full names or disclosing personal information
such as birth dates, addresses or phone numbers. Teach them to always
log off when they are done and to change their passwords frequently. Make
sure that they don’t keep their passwords written down anywhere.
Sites that require users to be over 13 or over 18 should be off-limits
for children. Set firm rules about which sites your children can visit
before they use the internet. You can check your browser history to ensure
that they are sticking to your boundaries, although it must be noted that
items can be deleted from browser histories.
Unfortunately, cyber bullying most often involves classmates, friends or
people that your child already knows. It’s easy to say that they
should ignore bullies, but that advice is rarely taken as they attempt
to defend themselves in front of their peers. The first step to preventing
bullying is to get your child to talk about it. Ask them to show you the
offending messages. One of the biggest deterrents for children to tell
their parents about bullies is their fear that their parents will take
action that may embarrass them or exacerbate the problem.
It’s important that you and your child develop a coping strategy
together. There are many ways in which you can stand up to bullies, report
their behaviour or take legal action. Always save offending correspondence
to show as evidence.