How to protect your children from online threats this winter
As the Holidays are getting closer, we can guess what is on many Christmas lists on their way to the North Pole – technology!
Many children are asking for shiny new devices this year. 95% of teenagers own a smartphone and a quarter of children under six have a smartphone. But tablets, smartphones and laptops are not toys, they are powerful communication devices that connect your child to the world. A study has shown that 35% of parents are planning on giving their children a smartphone or tablet this Christmas. While many parents do discuss online threats with their children, 40% do not consider online safety when making a purchase, and 25% have never used parental controls. A further 25% were unlikely to take the time to set up their child’s new tablet or smartphone safely on Christmas day before letting them go online. Here are some online safety tips you can use to ensure your children stay safe online over the festive period.
Do your research before you buy:
Some devices and toys have in-built parental controls, whereas others have nothing. Take the time to look around and do some detective work, and find out which devices have in-built parental controls, and what other software is available to protect your children from online threats on their new devices.
- Parental controls reduce the amount of risky content and contact children will be exposed to, and often help you see what is going on.
- However, parental controls are sometimes not enough, so equip your children with the correct skills to protect themselves from online threats:
- Always keep your phone safe and secured with a PIN
- Don’t answer calls from numbers you don’t recognize
- Don’t give your number to strangers
- Never share personal information online
- Never send pictures to people you don’t know
Once you feel like you have a good understanding of how to keep your children safe when using their new device, shop till you drop!
Set up first, wrap later:
When you purchase the new gadget, take the time before wrapping it to get familiar with how it works and set up the parental controls. This way, your children can enjoy the gift right away, and you can spend the holiday’s relaxing, knowing you are doing your best to protect your children from online threats. You can also take the opportunity to introduce them to the responsibilities that come with a grown-up device. You can let them know that you trust them, but you don’t trust some of the people online, and you want to make sure they are safe.
After the excitement of first receiving the gift has calmed down, you can take the chance to talk through some boundaries with your child. A few good rules to consider are:
- At bedtime, devices are given to you to be charged at your bedside. No devices are allowed to go to bed with the children at night.
- Establish how long your child can use the device during the day. Perhaps set a screen time limit on the device.
- Create no-device zones, for example; during dinner time, when doing homework or when talking to someone in person.
- You have access to all passwords and regular check-ups on the device, to ensure everything is order.
Manage social media:
You can also take the opportunity to talk through with your child how to set up privacy settings on their apps to make sure only approved friends can see posts and images, and warn them about potential online threats when sharing personal information online. You can show them how to report offensive comments or block people who upset them or share content that makes them uncomfortable. If this approach is too forward, you could try and encourage a conversation every now and then. Perhaps, by asking questions such as:
‘What’s your favorite website/app?’,
‘What are your favorite online games?’
‘Do you use these websites/apps every day?’.
This will give you the ability to help guide the conversation towards the risk associated with the way in which they interact with the device.
Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year from all of us at Impero!
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