The parent’s guide to keeping kids safe online

Much of your children’s lives happens online. But the internet has many dangers. In this post we reveal how you can help your kids enjoy the internet safely by following these simple steps.

Online safety is essential from the start

Raising a kid in the online world is challenging. Cyber­bullying, internet addiction, adult content, grooming, and self-image issues are just some of the threats. The online play­ground can be almost as dangerous as the real world.

As experts in online security F‑Secure strives to protect all your digital moments and ensure that every member of your family can enjoy their time online. But getting rid of the internet and social media isn’t a realistic solution; we need to teach kids to use the internet safely. Which is why we have compiled this guide for parents, including 7 tips on how to teach your children to use the internet safely.

1. Gain trust by giving reasons

Feeling ashamed often prevents kids from telling parents if some­thing bad happens online. It’s crucial that your kids know they can come to you when that happens. For that, you need their trust.

To kids, internet and social media can feel like a place without adults. But as a parent or guardian, you are responsible for your kids’ safety online. And it’s important they know that. So set rules but ensure that you give a clear explanation for the reasons why. Don’t just create restrictions without context.

However, keep in mind that children are also entitled to their privacy. It’s often up to you to decide where the line is drawn. Children of different ages have different needs. And at some point, you have to give them more space.

2. Set an example

In order to raise your child to behave well you need to set an example. And as any parent knows, Do as I say, not as I do isn’t always the best approach. The same goes with internet behavior. If you don’t want your child to learn bad online habits, you might want to consider if you can improve yours.

Think about what you do and share in your own social media channels. If you share too much online, you might harm your child. For example, your child can be bullied based on the things you share. And the pictures you post can also be posted to questionable web pages by someone else. And don’t forget to respect your child’s privacy.

3. Get to know the apps and social media services your kids use

It’s important you know which social media services your kids use. When you know them, you can better under­stand the dangers and benefits. Additionally, you get better under­standing to the world your children live in.

There are many apps for children that the majority of adults simply aren’t aware of. A good way to fix that is to ask your child to teach you about them. By doing this you will get first-hand user guidance, you’ll get to know how the apps work, and you get to do some­thing together. YouTube is also a brilliant resource for finding out more about specific apps, and you can use a simple search string such as Is [NAME OF APP] safe for kids?

4. Teach your children about these risks

Children may not be aware of all the possible risks related to social media. These include collecting personal data, fraud, how vast the reach of internet can be, and the fact that what they post on the internet may never be deleted. The following three points are important to children of all ages:

Don’t give personal information to strangers

Children must learn to not give personal information unless necessary. Giving sensitive personal information or sending photos when chatting online is a huge risk. And hardly anything online is private. Most apps and services collect data about their users.

Online actions have consequences

Your children should also know that actions online have consequences — just like in the real world. For example, online bullying is just as harmful to the victims. Some actions also have legal consequences. Kids should also be aware of age restrictions and why they exist.

Everything online is not real

Finally, children need to know that every­thing online is not real. Healthy source criticism may come only with age, but it’s important to learn to doubt. Even more importantly, they should know that not every­one online is who they say they are.

5. Accidents will happen — it’s up to you how you react

Children are curious by nature, and accidents will happen. If you scold and get angry at them, they might not tell you next time. So, praise them for having the courage to tell you. And give them the following advice regarding what to do when they next encounter bad things online:

  • Close the browser immediately.
  • Talk to an adult.
  • Do not share personal information, such as the name of your school, home address, location, or photographs.
  • Never meet people online without permission or the presence of an adult.
  • If someone coerces you to not tell anyone, don’t believe them! The coercer wants you to be silent because if you told some­one, they would them­selves get in big trouble.

It is very important that children have a trusted adult they can talk to. And not only about the negative things, but their joy and success, too. Social media is important to children. It’s good if you show interest in their activities. After all, the best way to learn to use the internet safely is by using it.

6. Set rules

Make a contract with your child and set the rules of using a new phone. This way it is clear what is allowed, what is not, and what are the consequences of breaking the rules. This will also teach your children about real life skills. Here are some points to cover:

  • Location data should be kept off in all services to prevent stalking and tracking.
  • Always be fully clothed in front of a camera.
  • Be suspicious of friend requests by strangers.
  • Always ask your parents’ permission before meeting any online friends.
  • Ask for permission before you take a photo of someone.
  • Always ask your parents’ permission before meeting any online friends.
  • To share pictures or information about someone, you need their permission.
  • Don’t bully anyone.
  • Download new games or apps only after getting permission from a parent.
  • How much and when can the phone be used?
  • Are in-app purchases allowed? If yes, for how much?

7. Use a parental control app

It’s impossible to always be present when your children are online. A parental control app helps you enforce healthy rules and ensure the safety of your children. For example, with F‑Secure TOTAL you can prevent your child from accessing adult content, violence, and gambling on their device.

You can also set limits to screen time. This helps you balance the daily life of your children. Make sure time required for home­work, chores and other activities is not spent playing games or online.

With F‑Secure TOTAL, you can also prevent installing new apps without your approval. On top of that, TOTAL keeps your families’ devices clean from all malware and viruses.

Keep your family safe online with F‑Secure TOTAL

F‑Secure TOTAL security package is an easy way to protect your children online. It makes malware infections history, includes parental controls, protects your banking and shopping, protects your online privacy, and saves your pass­words for safer and faster login. One subscription is all you need to secure your families’ phones and computers.

You can try it for free, with no credit card required.

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