8 Ways for Parents to Keep Their Kids Safe Online

The online world is an engaging and scary place for kids to be. While it has many valuable benefits, it has become a place where our children can become prey to others.

Online safety goes beyond monitoring your child’s desktop computer. Smartphones are making it easier than ever before to go online and are creating a number of new concerns.

Here are a few tips you can use to keep your child safe online.

Is Online Safety Really an Issue?

Parents around the globe are online every day. They use the internet for work and recreation. Parents might not be aware of the many dangers that lurk on the internet. Let’s look at a few numbers from The Center for Cyber Safety and Education that prove online safety is an issue.

  • 62% of children in grades 4-8 went to adult websites after a search.
  • 63% visited sites where they can compete against strangers
  • 29% used the internet in ways their parents won’t approve.
  • 31% lied about age to access adult websites.

Another study conducted by pediatricians shows over half of youth age internet users are posting personal information online. One out of every five youth is experiencing unwanted interpersonal conversations.

There is a danger associated with online activities. Children use social media, chat rooms, video chat apps, and games to connect with people, some they don’t know personally. Parents, guardians, and teachers need to be aware and take measures to combat this problem.

Tips for Parents to Keep Kids Safe Online

Helping parents combat the darker side of the internet; we are sharing six tips that will help keep your kids safe.

1. Install Anti-Virus Software.

Anti-virus software is more than just protection from a virus. Using a reputable software, you can protect your child by setting up a firewall. This type of software can stop phishing attacks that steal personal information. You can block spam as well as specific websites.Your anti-virus software will also protect your device from malware that can steal passwords or track your activities.

2. Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN)

A VPN will hide your internet activity from third parties. It establishes a secure and encrypted connection between your computer and a private server. Using a VPN prevents advertisers from tracking your child’s online activities and showing targeted ads.

3. Teach Your Child the Basics of Computer Use

Setting up security measures through a VPN or anti-virus software is great. But, parents need to teach their children the basics of computer use. Take time to sit with your child and explain how the internet works. Let them know once they post something; it is out there forever.

Parents must be honest about the dangers involved with internet usage. Parents should show their children how to use the internet in a positive way.

4. Use Parental Controls

Parental controls are a great tool for keeping your kids safe online, along with communicating with your child about potential dangers. Using a parental block is easy. A lot of anti-virus software comes with this option.These blocks can filter inappropriate websites and content.

Setting up a parental block can limit screen time, notify you of your child’s online activities, and track your child’s location. There are various types of parental control options, so do your research to choose the best one for your family. For further help, check out this article from Common Sense Media.

5. Know Who Your Child Is Talking TO

It is important to know who your child is talking to, especially online. To do this, you should utilize several options. Installing parental control can give you access to some of their activities.

You should also let your child know that you’re keeping an eye on their online activities and don’t want them to interact with strangers.

Most importantly, parents should have open and honest lines of communication with their children. Teens need to know there is a certain level of trust in them. At the same time, they need to know the dangers that could be lurking in chat rooms. Open lines of communication can go a long way in protecting them from harm.

6. Keep an Eye on Your Kids’ Activities

Placing a computer in your child’s bedroom is not ideal because parents are less likely to be aware of their child’s online activity. Designating an area of your home for the use of computers or other electronics is a way to keep your kids in sight. It makes your presence known. You can physically see what is on the screen and communicate any concerns you have.

7. Do Your Homework

Let’s face it; kids are clever. You need to do your homework and learn about the latest online threats. Browser histories can tell you what sites your kids are visiting. Take a moment to check their browser history and address any safety concerns.

Parents also should familiarize themselves with chat lingo. If you walk by your child when they are chatting, you may see them type things like LOL or IDK. Other abbreviations they use are P911 (parent alert), POS (parent over shoulder), or A/S/L (age, sex, location). Knowing this lingo can help you determine if your child is chatting with friends from school, sharing personal information, or interacting with strangers.

8. Limit Your Child’s Internet Usage

The purpose of limiting your child’s screen time is simple. The less time they are perusing the internet, the less chance they have of getting involved in something dangerous. Less screen time also decreases certain concerns, like missed opportunities for learning or socializing.

Parents can do this in several ways. Designate a time to put away all electronics. Spend time working on outdoor activities with your child. Schedule time each day devoted to family.

You can also decide to limit certain activities like online gaming, or set some ground rules about social media and which platforms your child can use and who they can add as friends.

Final Thoughts

The best way to keep your kids safe online is to keep a line of communication open. Your children should feel that they can come to you and talk about their online experiences if they run into something that bothered them.

You should take additional steps to protect your child, including installing anti-virus software, keeping an eye on their screen when they’re online, and setting some rules for what they can do online and how much time they can spend on the internet.

Vivian Choi

Vivian lives in Brooklyn. She went to school at Stony Brook University, where she studied Computer Science and English. She’s created apps, designed websites, and even published a few short stories. When she’s not coding or writing, she likes walking with her husky named Roscoe.