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Parental guidelines for children’s online safety

How can you maximise all that the internet has to offer, while keeping your children safe online? Read on...

Do you have concerns about your children’s online safety? Do you have any unanswered questions about how to protect them or whether you’re doing enough?

The use of internet-connected gadgets for work, play, and school assignments has become increasingly popular, and it has become more difficult for parents to protect their children from the myriad hazards they may encounter when online.

As children grow more immersed in the online world, the topic of “how can I keep my children safe while surfing the internet?” is becoming a more daunting reality for parents in South Africa.

Benefit and risk must be balanced

Understandably, it is not always easy for us to explain to our children, the importance and seriousness of online safety habits and the real risks they can be exposed to. This is due to the fact that we ourselves are unsure of how some of the new technology works given that it evolves so quickly and that it is hard to keep up – as well as the increasing level of cyber intrusion. C

onsidering this, below is a useful list of tips that parents can implement at home, as well as a guide to help you discuss safe online habits/behaviours with your children. After all, as parents, we have a responsibility to ensure that we balance the benefits that the digital world offers our children, with the risks it can bring.

Ways to keep your children safe online

  • Even before your child gets their first mobile phone or tablet PC to play games, talk to them about the potential hazards they may face online and the need of internet safety. Be honest with them and use language that is suitable.
  • Encourage kids to tell you about anything they’ve seen or heard online that has upset them or made them feel uneasy – and talk to them honestly about cyberbullying and its realities.
  • Maintain contact with your children and begin implementing parental controls for a child’s first device to shield them from potentially harmful websites.
  • Talk to your child about why parental control tools on these gadgets are vital and prepare them for such technologies. Explain that this is being done to help parents protect their children online.
  • Tell your children not to talk to strangers online in the same way you would teach them not to talk to strangers in real life.
  • Make it a rule with your kids not to disclose personal information online – don’t give out phone numbers, school information, or your home address to anyone over the interne.
  • Remind kids to be cautious about what they publish online, whether it’s images, videos, posting on someone’s wall, or checking into a place. Remind them that what they put online stays online forever.

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