As one of, if not the greatest export of the 20th century, the internet has unlocked realms of possibilities for generations to enjoy. Online proficiency is opening careers and a whole new wealth of information to people. Our children have this powerful tool at their fingertips, but with great power comes great responsibility. With that in mind, it’s never been more important to educate kids about online safety.

Stress the importance of online security

To keep your kids using the internet safely, there are several simple measures you can take. For starters, make sure that they know the importance of not giving out their full name, email, or home address to anyone online. Games like Minecraft are popular with kids of all ages, and the chat function allows them to communicate digitally. Whilst this can be a fun side to gameplay, it’s vital that your children know not to give out any other sensitive information, like passwords.

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Image by Intel Free Press, used under Creative Commons License (CC by 2.0)

Before your child so much as opens a browser, sit them down and discuss the potential dangers of the internet. Stress that not everyone using the internet is who they say they are. Above all, emphasise that under no circumstances should they meet anyone they’ve spoken to online.  One of the simplest ways to ensure your kids stay safe online, is to stay with them when they’re connected. If you can, have your computer or laptop stationed somewhere where you can keep an eye on whoever’s using it. Yet when the pressures of everyday life come calling, it’s easy to see how this is not always possible. To monitor what websites they’ve been visiting, check their browsing history on a regular basis to ensure they’re staying safe online.

Use a child friendly browser

Another way to keep tabs on the websites viewed by your kids, is to install a child friendly browser. All major broadband providers in the UK now offer a standard content filter. This acts as an online firewall for your browser, so your children shouldn’t be able to access inappropriate websites. Note – this doesn’t apply to all companies, so if you have any doubts then visit your provider’s website to clarify.

Image by Yuri Samoilov, used under Creative Commons License (CC by 2.0)

Bond & teach internet safety?

Believe it or not, online safety can also be fun. Use the internet with your child, whether it’s conducting research for their homework or playing a fun strategy game. By doing so, you can act as a role model in using it safely and they’ll follow suit. As well as bonding with your child, you’ll have taught them important values of staying safe online. It’s a win-win, no?

Online safety doesn’t stop at computers and laptops. These days, portable electronic devices are commonplace in many households. With them, connecting to the internet is made into a quick, hassle-free task. If your child uses an iPhone, iPad, smartphone or tablet to browse the internet, use the settings menu to restrict what websites they can access.

It’s important that your child is able to use the internet, but it’s also important that they use it responsibly. Don’t let them get caught out – teach them online safety now.