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Safer internet day- How to help your kids browse safely

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The 8th of February marked the 19th edition of Safer Internet Day (SID) with actions taking place globally. The theme this year “Together for a better internet” called upon stakeholders to join forces to make the internet a safer place, especially for children and young people. We all are very well aware that the internet can be a very scary place and the material that children have access to these days is enough to give any parent sleepless nights. Unfortunately, just banning the internet is not a viable option as technology forms a major part of everyday life, even when it comes to education.

It is, however, parents’ responsibility to ensure that they take all measures to make internet access as safe as possible. Statistics show that 53% of India’s population are addicted to the net! It is thus important to get the basics right and restrict all internet access until children reach the age of 8 or 9 as this is the ideal age where kids will start using the internet. Be present and make sure that you, as the parent, introduce the internet to your little people. This will also ensure that they will come to you with any net-related issue and that will also instill trust. Don’t make a major issue of the internet and make sure that you present it as a fun activity you can do together.

Times have changed, so has parenting but there is nothing wrong with laying down some ground rules when it comes to internet usage. Be blunt and open about the fact that there are predators and very bad people lurking behind screens and that no personal information should ever be shared! In instances where this will be required, encourage children to do it with an adult present and to ensure that it is absolutely necessary and legit. Write an ‘Approval List’ and get your kids to agree on the line items. The list should contain all scenarios where your kids require your permission to proceed such as making online friends, sharing information, uploading content etc.

Children and young people are still very oblivious when it comes to content that is shared and uploaded. They have absolutely no control over what happens to it and it is imperative that you explain what kind of sites they are allowed to access and what not. Modern-day children are very smart and tech-savvy and unfortunately, an explanation is needed for them to understand. Just saying ‘no’ is a challenge being laid down for kids today and will only make them more curious. The right attitude towards the net goes a very long way!

While trust is necessary, don’t forget to monitor and mentor online interactions, especially when it comes to social media. Don’t be the dreaded mom or dad spy, have an open and honest conversation that you will monitor certain sites to protect them. This will assist them in making the right decisions when they are older and how to spot danger from a mile away. Investigate how to apply privacy and security settings on social sites together!

Always put yourself in little or younger people’s shoes and try to see how they would perceive the world wide web. You might be one of the lucky ones where your child will see the internet as a learning tool and on the flipside you will get children who are way too curious for their own good. Always just remember that the positive aspects of the wonderful digital world have way more positives than negatives, it is all about getting the basics right.

Safer internet day- How to help your kids browse safely

AUTHOR

Inge Liebenberg

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