Striking a balance between allowing your child the freedom to use the internet while also keeping them safe from potential danger is one of the most difficult tasks parents will face. Demonise the internet and suddenly it becomes forbidden fruit, but give them too much freedom and they could stumble across something they shouldn’t. If you’re concerned about your children accessing the internet, follow these simple steps to ensuring they only access what they should.
Check your Parental Settings
These days, parental settings take the guesswork out of figuring out what is suitable for kids. Check with your internet service provider to make sure your parental settings are in place, but don’t forget that your children may also have access to the internet through their phone data plan. The solution? Limit their data so that they have to connect to the wifi when they’re at home to avoid wasting it. There are also ways to activate parental settings on phones, too.
Monitor their Messaging Usage
Before allowing young people to use messaging services like Whatsapp or Facebook Messenger, ensure that they agree to the following condition. They can use it as they like, but you are allowed to check in any time you want. This doesn’t mean that you have to read through every message they send to their friends, but it will encourage them to think about how they are using these messaging apps. This can be particularly important when dealing with young people with difficult parental backgrounds. If you foster a child, it may be an important part of the family reunification process that they are able to keep in touch with their birth family, or they may have to have their access limited.
Set Clear Boundaries
The best way to ensure your children understand what is and isn’t acceptable is to set clear boundaries and then stick to them. If the understanding is that they can have one hour on the internet per evening, it’s important to let them use this time as they wish, provided it’s within the boundaries that you have set out. If this means they sit on YouTube watching videos that drive you up the wall, then that is all part of the deal and you need to accept it, even if you’d rather they were watching something educational.
Stranger Danger is Still Relevant
When you were younger, you were probably taught about not answering the door to strangers and not speaking to people they don’t know on the street. Stranger danger has become all the more complex, so it’s really important to teach your children than not everyone they meet online will be who they say they are. There are age limits on social networks for a reason, so it’s important not to let young people use these sites until they are old enough.
Written by : Bethany Pembrook