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It’s understandable as a parent to be concerned about giving your child a device with internet access. The internet is a useful resource that gives anyone access to a wealth of information. Yet, it can cause harm if utilized wrongly.
Internet access can benefit kids: they can connect with their friends, watch educational videos, and learn useful skills. But, you must monitor its use as a parent and restrict it in some ways. This article will show you ten important things to consider before giving your child internet access. These factors will help you protect your wards online to the best of your abilities.
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1. Know how to spot phishing scams
A big problem on the internet is malicious actors impersonating brands to steal sensitive information. They send emails that look legitimate (but aren’t) to trick people into giving up information like usernames and passwords. Sometimes, they include malicious links or attachments to corrupt your device and extract the information.
Before clicking any link, ensure that it comes from a trusted source. Check the domain name and email body for creative misspellings, e.g., Microsoft.com > M1crosoft.com. Instruct your child not to give up any information without your consent, as you’re better at detecting phishing emails. Educate them about spotting such messages and encourage them to report any suspicion to you.
2. Nothing is free
There’s a popular quote that says, “If something is free, then you’re not the customer; you’re the product”. Nothing is really free on the Internet. Whenever you see a free download, it’s likely an attempt to get the user to give up personal information. Similarly, some games may be free to play but employ shoddy tactics to encourage in-game purchases.
Kids are often the targets of such actions because they don’t understand that “free!” does not really mean what it says. Educate your kids about this and monitor the kind of apps they use to avoid them falling victim.
3. You can limit your child’s screen time
If you’re too concerned about your kid getting distracted, you can limit their screen time to prevent it. For instance, you can limit it to only after-school hours so they can focus on school work.
Limiting screen time takes different formats. It can be the traditional way of collecting the device once the time is up or the more sophisticated way of using a parental control app. The ideal amount of screen time varies for different children, and you can limit it without being too strict.
4. Communicate with your kids
Communication is crucial in the parent-child relationship. Talk to your children and ask about their online activities. Build trust so that they can tell you even things that may be inconvenient.
A parental control app can only do so much, and you, as a parent, can do much better. Remember that kids can be savvy and try to hide their digital activities. Communication solves a lot of potential issues that may arise.
5. Respect your kids’ privacy
You don’t have to install spyware to monitor your kids’ online activities. Kids enjoy their privacy, and you should respect that. Take a more hands-off approach and give them the freedom to roam online. However, freedom has limits; don’t hesitate to check what they’re doing if you’re concerned.
You can install non-invasive parental control software with your child’s consent and explain to them why. Go over some rules with them; they’ll likely understand the necessity.
6. Encourage learning and creativity online
One of the best things about the internet is that it’s the biggest library of information mankind has ever seen. You can use this library to build your child’s creativity and teach them useful skills. For example, if they love art, there are many YouTube channels where they can learn how to draw and create art. The same applies to music, science, sports, or other interests.
7. Teach them about the drawbacks of social media
Social media can help kids connect with their friends and peers, but it has many drawbacks that you should educate your kids about. Many social media pages are rampant with half-truths or outright lies to mislead people.
Most importantly, teach your kids not to automatically believe anything they see online. They should always verify from third-party sources or ask you to do that. If social media is too much of a concern for you, you might even avoid it. There’s a lot more on the web that can benefit your kids apart from social platforms.
8. Avoid posting personal data
Instruct your kids to never give up personal information such as pictures, house addresses, phone numbers, and school names. If it’s required to sign up for a platform, you should be the one handling that.
The internet is full of malicious actors looking to extract information from kids and possibly blackmail them. This basic guideline helps prevent that.
9. Kid-friendly devices
There are many smartphones, tablets, and PCs specifically designed for kids. These devices usually have built-in parental control features such as an approved contact list, parental alerts, and blacklisting for certain website categories. It’s more convenient to get a kid-friendly device instead of buying a normal type and configuring it for parental control.
10. Weigh the risks and benefits
There’s no golden rule on whether you should give your child a device with internet access. Every child will utilize the internet in different ways, and you’re the person that understands your child most.
Internet access has a lot of benefits but comes with its own risks. You should weigh the benefits against the risks and decide if giving your child access to an internet-connected device is worth it. You can also seek your child’s opinions on what they’ll utilize internet access for if given to guide your decision.
The internet can be rewarding if used appropriately and harmful if utilized wrongly. We have mentioned the necessary factors to consider before giving a child access to an internet-connected device. These factors determine how safe your kids will surf the internet as you guide them.