School children will begin to learn about the internet and its benefits, but also its drawbacks. Young children are also vulnerable and will need to learn about the risks of being on the internet. Teach your child early on about being safe on the internet with this guide from this prep school in the South West.
The first conversations
The age for children to be using the Internet decreases as time goes by, as we’re entering a new era of accessibility in technology for children. The key thing to remember is that you should show your willingness to be interested in what they’re doing both online and offline.
Show them that you know what they’re interested in and how they can access information around their favourite things online. This can be as simple as showing them how to use a search engine, or how to play with apps on a smartphone or tablet.
Listen to your child and understand why they want to use the internet and for what purpose. As your child grows older they will come to rely on the internet for further study advice and support, especially during exam periods. They may also want to chat with friends online by playing games or video calls to support their learning.
Warning them of the risks
Child safety is critical when allowing your child to use the internet and is the most concerning element of allowing them free reign. This discussion should be had with your child before they use the computer to go online.
The main risks children could face are:
- Downloading viruses without their knowledge
- Indecent conversations
- Viewing explicit content
- Providing sensitive information to strangers
For parents there should be a series of restrictions in place for your child to avoid accessing indecent websites, social media (until they’re old enough), and ways they could be caught by viruses or phishing software. A lot of internet packages now provide this service.
Tell your child why you do this and they’ll learn how to find those signs if they’re navigating the internet. They’ll soon begin to understand what’s right and what’s wrong when it comes to using online services.
Showing them how to be resilient
The key message for children is to identify what parts of the internet are problematic and what they need to do if they find inappropriate content online.
When they’re younger it’s wise to oversee what websites they’re visiting and what they’ll be using the internet for. Show them the key indicators that a website is safe and let them have a look at a website and identify features that they think are safe or harmful.
There’s a whole range of content online that children, as they grow, will want to be interested in. Their favourite hobbies, online services and communities are accessed using the internet that won’t be avoided – it’s just showing them how to act when they find something rude or uncomfortable. They’ll learn to be resilient and know how to action content when they see it, or know when to talk to an adult about what they have found.