7 cyber safety tips for mums with a young family
Internet | 23 January 2018
As useful as it is to have a reliable Internet connection in your home, you still need to be careful about how it’s used if you have young children.
Your kids will never know a time when the Internet wasn’t readily available, and they might not give a second thought to cyber safety whenever they log into the family computer.
That’s why it is up to you to help keep them safe by following these simple tips.
1. Supervise your children
In some modern households, the computer may have replaced TV as the great “virtual babysitter.”
This means that some parents might think that all they need to do is sit their children in front of a computer screen to keep them happy for hours just like parents have done with their TVs for years. This may be a very bad idea.
Even if you’ve taught your older children how to behave online and how to stay safe, no amount of education can replace supervision. You don’t always need to look over your children’s shoulders when they’re online, but you should check in with them to make sure that what they’re doing is safe.
2. Set a curfew
You’re probably aware that you can spend hours doing practically nothing online. The same goes for children. There is a lot that can keep them entertained on the Internet, so set a curfew to make sure they’re not spending too much time on their devices.
An hour or so in the evening should be enough computer time for a young child. If you must, set up a parental lock that prevents your children from using your computer after a certain time.
3. Never give out personal information
You should hopefully know that you should never give out information such as your address or phone number to someone you don’t know online, but your children might not know this.
Make it very clear that they should never share information such as their phone number, their address, or even their real names with people online that they don’t know.
This will almost certainly come up with your older children once they start using social media. If your children are using social media to talk to friends, make sure they know exactly who those friends are before they share anything.
4. Don’t take things at face value
The Internet is often a place of zero accountability. People can say anything online and pass it off as the undisputed truth. This could be anything from fake news and urban legends presented as facts, to people outright lying about who they are.
Unless your children are on an education website or a trusted news network, they should take everything they hear with a grain of salt just like you should. This is especially important if they ever chat with people on social media. The person at the other computer could literally be anyone, and they may not say who they really are.
5. Stop, block and tell
Anybody who spends enough time online will encounter a rude and abusive message or email from somebody. If your children receive such a message, teach them to stop responding to the sender, block the sender if they continue to send abusive messages, and tell you about the message.
Cyber bullying is still bullying, and no child deserves to go through it. The best thing a child can do when they encounter a bully either in the “real” world or online is to tell a trusted adult, whether that is you, a teacher, or another authority figure.
6. Don’t be afraid of parental controls
We’ve already talked about using parental locks to limit a child’s time online, but parental controls can also come in handy for keeping children away from the wrong kinds of websites.
Parental controls aren’t perfect – they often block sites that older children might need to visit for school projects, and some objectionable sites might get through filters – but they will still help keep your younger children safe.
7. Be careful where you click
You should never click on strange links or open attachments from people you don’t know, and neither should your children. Such links could expose your computer to spyware and viruses as well as some material that is less than child-friendly.
In many ways, cyber safety comes down to supervising your children while they are online and teaching them to not engage with people they don’t know.
It also gives you a great opportunity to teach your children how the Internet and technology in general can benefit them as they grow older. Make sure they are off to a safe and positive start.