“Ensuring the online security of children: a guide for parents” is a collaborative post.

To ensure the internet safety of your children, it’s crucial that you, as parents, are aware of the online risks and know how to help them avoid such threats. With almost every American child and teen having access to the internet, they engage in online games and smartphone usage just like they would on a playground, forming a significant presence in the digital community. However, like any community, there are potential risks and dangers involved. To ensure online safety for children, parents must take active steps in this direction.

1. Teach your child to be suspicious

On the internet, you have the opportunity to learn fascinating and valuable information. However, it’s crucial to remember that false information also exists. Keep in mind that anyone can post things online and not everything you come across is reliable. Stay cautious of deceptive news, ads that aim to trick you into clicking by promising rewards, and unfamiliar downloads that may contain viruses or malware. If something appears too good to be true, it likely is.

2. Use protective technologies

You can discover technology that assists you in monitoring your child’s internet activities, filtering out inappropriate content, and tracking their online behaviour. You have a wide range of options from purchasing software to utilising built-in features in your internet browser.

There are 2 main types of internet safety apps: parental controls and VPN. The first type of software imposes restrictions, the other protects against hacking attempts and other hacker attacks. A wise move is to download a VPN and activate it on all devices your child uses. For example, VeePN has VPN apps for all platforms: from Mac to Android TV. If you install a VPN for a Mac, you can prevent data interception, phishing attacks, cyberbullying, DDoS attacks, and some other vulnerabilities. With a VPN for Mac, you can prevent account hacking and theft of money or information, and this is the most important thing.

However, it is important to remember that these tools are supplementary and cannot replace the necessity of open communication between you and your child.

3. Set clear rules

Engage in honest conversations with your children about their online interactions, including who they communicate with and how. Additionally, discuss the importance of considering their online presence critically, as everything they share leaves behind a digital trail. Emphasise the significance of maintaining a positive “digital footprint” by being mindful of their actions and words online.

Ensure that they comprehend the unacceptability of discriminatory or inappropriate contact. Encourage them to refrain from spreading rumours, sharing hurtful or embarrassing content, or engaging in harmful behaviour disguised as harmless jokes, as it can deeply affect others.

Empower your child to speak up if they encounter something online that makes them feel upset, uncomfortable, or scared. Encourage them to inform you or a trusted adult immediately.

4. Filter available content

You can use filters to restrict the internet sites and content that your children can access online. Companies that provide your internet service can provide you with information about the available internet filters. You can control what different devices can view on the internet.

Ensure that you activate the “SafeSearch” feature on your kids’ devices for both Google Search and Google Images. This will help filter out most, although not all, adult and other inappropriate search results.

5. Spend time with them online

You can create opportunities for your child to interact safely and positively with friends, family, and yourself online. When connecting with others, you have an excellent chance to model kindness and empathy in virtual interactions.

Help your child recognise and avoid misinformation, disinformation, age-inappropriate content, and content that may cause anxiety or harm. Introduce them to reliable sources of information.

Kids may come across advertisements that promote unhealthy foods, gender stereotypes, or age-inappropriate material. Assist them in identifying online ads and use this opportunity to explore together what’s wrong with some of the negative messaging you encounter.

Spend time with your child identifying age-appropriate apps, games, and other online entertainment. Stay vigilant for apps that might contain harmful content or pose privacy risks.

Final thoughts on ensuring the online security of children

Encouraging your children to spend time online presents an excellent chance for them to unleash their creativity, learn, express their opinions, and back causes they care about. Motivate them to utilise internet resources, such as exercise videos and physically engaging video games, to stay active. However, it’s crucial to strike a balance between online activities and offline recreation for a healthy, well-rounded lifestyle. If you, as parents, make the necessary efforts, using the Internet will be beneficial for your children. Although safety on the internet is a rather difficult problem, you can handle it.

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