9 Tips for Keeping Kids Safe Online

By Willow Breckenridge | Oct 18, 2021


More kids are online now more than ever before. The pandemic has made way for increased online activity, as kids had to attend classes online and rely on the internet to get their work done, talk to friends and family and entertain themselves during quarantine. 

So much of kids’ lives have shifted online, which means parents need to be more cautious with their children’s online activities. The internet has provided a lot of benefits in this past year and a half. It allowed children and teenagers to make the shift to the new normal more comfortable. They have been able to continue with their lives, keeping up with school and their friends. 

However, the internet world poses new challenges and dangers for kids and parents. How does a parent keep their kids safe in a world where nearly anything is at their fingertips? Parents want to do everything they can to keep their children safe and well. Here are nine tips for keeping kids safe online. 

1. Discuss Their Online Activity

Once children begin accessing the internet, parents should talk to them about their online activity. Keeping communication open between parents and children with online usage is a great way to stay safe. Parents need to ask their children what sites and apps they frequently use and whether those are appropriate for their age or not. Children should be able to approach their parents with questions and concerns surrounding what happens on the computer.

2. Adjust Parental Controls and Privacy

An innocent online search can lead to something not so innocent. That’s why it’s important to set parental controls and privacy on children’s devices or the family laptop or computer. Various website browsers, internet providers, and even individual devices offer parental controls and search restrictions. Different features allow parents to block sites with sexual content, violent material and other inappropriate pages. 

3. Monitor Screens for Young Children

Monitoring a child’s time online can help ease worrying minds and create a safer online environment for children. Younger children may not know everything about online safety, so parents should pay particular attention to their little ones. Keeping the computer in a central spot and setting phones and tablets to forget Wi-Fi passcodes allows parents to better monitor screens and keep kids from going on a device without parental consent.

4. Limit Screen Time

A great way to keep kids safe online is by limiting screen time. The longer a child uses a device, the more time they have to search sites and view content that may not be suitable or appropriate for their age. Children should have no more than two hours of online screen time every day. However, the average is well above that, with most kids on for about eight hours every day. Cutting back on screen time keeps kids safer and healthier. 

5. Know the Child’s Online Friends

Children and teenagers likely talk with their friends online or through text messaging. Sometimes, these may be people that the child has never talked to or met in person but is simply an online friend. Parents should get involved with their child’s online friends and check the friend or messaging list. Children can be naive about who they’re chatting with, so parents should become friends with their child’s social media friends. 

6. Teach Them About Online Sharing Boundaries 

Kids need to be aware of online sharing boundaries. Some people tend to post whatever, whenever when online. Often, some people may share too much information about themselves. Parents need to teach their children about online sharing boundaries and the potential consequences of revealing personal information. Encourage children to ask themselves if what they’re posting is something they would say or give to a stranger in person. 

7. Review Social Media and Games Before Downloading

Social media, games and other apps can be enticing to children. They likely know how to download apps and engage on social media, even without parents teaching them. However, not all applications are child-friendly. Before a child downloads a game, site or app, a parent or trusted adult should review them. Predators often use apps and sites with direct messaging, video chats, user anonymity and file uploads, so avoid any that feature those. 

8. Understand the Signs of Online Predation

Parents can ensure online safety for their kids by understanding potential signs of online predation. Internet offenders often manipulate young people into inappropriate relationships, and children between 12 and 15 are most susceptible to online manipulation. Below are some of the warning signs that an online predator may be targeting a child: 

  • Spending an increased amount of time online
  • Secretive about who they’re talking to online
  • Turning off the computer when a parent walks in their child’s room
  • Withdrawal from family life
  • The arrival of unsolicited gifts

Parents need to be aware of these signs to keep their kids safe online.

9. Be an Online Role Model

Children need healthy role models regarding online behavior. Parents should model the actions and behaviors they want their children to follow when online. Teaching children of positive online usage is one of the best ways to ensure safety online. If children see their parents using the internet with respect, caution and boundaries, they will follow. This also means parents should limit their screen time. 

Safety Online and In Person

Kids deserve to be safe both in person and online. As the world continues to embrace technology and digitization, the need for online boundaries and safety for kids is more pressing. Parents need to take an active role in their children’s internet activity to allow them to benefit from the internet without being exposed to danger.

More kids are online now more than ever before. The pandemic has made way for increased online activity, as kids had to attend classes online and rely on the internet to get their work done, talk to friends and family and entertain themselves during quarantine. 

So much of kids’ lives have shifted online, which means parents need to be more cautious with their children’s online activities. The internet has provided a lot of benefits in this past year and a half. It allowed children and teenagers to make the shift to the new normal more comfortable. They have been able to continue with their lives, keeping up with school and their friends. 

However, the internet world poses new challenges and dangers for kids and parents. How does a parent keep their kids safe in a world where nearly anything is at their fingertips? Parents want to do everything they can to keep their children safe and well. Here are nine tips for keeping kids safe online. 

1. Discuss Their Online Activity

Once children begin accessing the internet, parents should talk to them about their online activity. Keeping communication open between parents and children with online usage is a great way to stay safe. Parents need to ask their children what sites and apps they frequently use and whether those are appropriate for their age or not. Children should be able to approach their parents with questions and concerns surrounding what happens on the computer.

2. Adjust Parental Controls and Privacy

An innocent online search can lead to something not so innocent. That’s why it’s important to set parental controls and privacy on children’s devices or the family laptop or computer. Various website browsers, internet providers, and even individual devices offer parental controls and search restrictions. Different features allow parents to block sites with sexual content, violent material and other inappropriate pages. 

3. Monitor Screens for Young Children

Monitoring a child’s time online can help ease worrying minds and create a safer online environment for children. Younger children may not know everything about online safety, so parents should pay particular attention to their little ones. Keeping the computer in a central spot and setting phones and tablets to forget Wi-Fi passcodes allows parents to better monitor screens and keep kids from going on a device without parental consent.

4. Limit Screen Time

A great way to keep kids safe online is by limiting screen time. The longer a child uses a device, the more time they have to search sites and view content that may not be suitable or appropriate for their age. Children should have no more than two hours of online screen time every day. However, the average is well above that, with most kids on for about eight hours every day. Cutting back on screen time keeps kids safer and healthier. 

5. Know the Child’s Online Friends

Children and teenagers likely talk with their friends online or through text messaging. Sometimes, these may be people that the child has never talked to or met in person but is simply an online friend. Parents should get involved with their child’s online friends and check the friend or messaging list. Children can be naive about who they’re chatting with, so parents should become friends with their child’s social media friends. 

6. Teach Them About Online Sharing Boundaries 

Kids need to be aware of online sharing boundaries. Some people tend to post whatever, whenever when online. Often, some people may share too much information about themselves. Parents need to teach their children about online sharing boundaries and the potential consequences of revealing personal information. Encourage children to ask themselves if what they’re posting is something they would say or give to a stranger in person. 

7. Review Social Media and Games Before Downloading

Social media, games and other apps can be enticing to children. They likely know how to download apps and engage on social media, even without parents teaching them. However, not all applications are child-friendly. Before a child downloads a game, site or app, a parent or trusted adult should review them. Predators often use apps and sites with direct messaging, video chats, user anonymity and file uploads, so avoid any that feature those. 

8. Understand the Signs of Online Predation

Parents can ensure online safety for their kids by understanding potential signs of online predation. Internet offenders often manipulate young people into inappropriate relationships, and children between 12 and 15 are most susceptible to online manipulation. Below are some of the warning signs that an online predator may be targeting a child: 

  • Spending an increased amount of time online
  • Secretive about who they’re talking to online
  • Turning off the computer when a parent walks in their child’s room
  • Withdrawal from family life
  • The arrival of unsolicited gifts

Parents need to be aware of these signs to keep their kids safe online.

9. Be an Online Role Model

Children need healthy role models regarding online behavior. Parents should model the actions and behaviors they want their children to follow when online. Teaching children of positive online usage is one of the best ways to ensure safety online. If children see their parents using the internet with respect, caution and boundaries, they will follow. This also means parents should limit their screen time. 

Safety Online and In Person

Kids deserve to be safe both in person and online. As the world continues to embrace technology and digitization, the need for online boundaries and safety for kids is more pressing. Parents need to take an active role in their children’s internet activity to allow them to benefit from the internet without being exposed to danger.

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