The Internet can be excellent for kids. They can use it to research school reports, communicate with teachers and other kids, and play interactive games. But online access also comes with risks, like inappropriate content, cyberbullying, and online predators. Using apps and websites where kids interact, predators may pose as a child or teen looking to make a new friend. They might prod the child to exchange personal information, such as address and phone number, or encourage kids to call them, seeing their phone number via caller ID.
Parents should be aware of what their kids see and hear on the Internet, who they meet, and what they share about themselves. Please talk with your kids, use tools to protect them, and keep an eye on their activities.
Kids can be Cyberbullied
While any type of bullying can be hurtful, cyberbullying can hurt someone just as much as physical or verbal bullying. Cyberbullying is any aggressive, threatening, or mean-spirited activity conducted via electronic communication (social media posts, text messages, etc.). Cyberbullying can spread quickly. It can be hard to escape and can be anonymous.
If you’re being cyberbullied, remember:
- It’s NOT your fault
- You’re not alone
- There is help available
- There are things you can do
- You can get through this
- It’s not weak to get help
What to do as a parent
1. Establish Ground Rules
- Don’t share personal information online.
- Don’t share photos online.
- Don’t follow or friend anyone you don’t know.
- Keep gaming chat just about the game. (All other topics should be viewed with suspicion.)
2. Use the Parental Control app
If you have ever wondered how to monitor someone else’s online activity, you might have heard about the mSpy parental control app. These tools require installation on a target person’s phone. But in exchange, they provide you with detailed information about someone else’s online behavior, including their whereabouts. Parents can begin enforcing online safety rules using the parental control settings found on digital devices and services. They keep younger kids from seeing disturbing content and limit their ability to share content that could be misused.
Most monitoring apps offer a similar set of functions and monitor the target person’s activity in real-time. It means that you can track their exact location anytime without sending requests. What’s more, you can set geofencing and get alerts when a user leaves or enters areas marked as restricted. The only disadvantage is that a parental control app needs to be installed on someone else’s phone, and some apps even require you to root or jailbreak a target device.
What can you do to protect them?
1. Spend time online together to teach your kids to appropriate online behavior
As soon as your child starts accessing the Internet, talk to them about what they are reading, watching, and who they are communicating with online – and keep the conversation going as they grow older.
2. Keep the computer in a common area where you can watch and monitor its use. Monitor any time spent on smartphones or tablets.
Listen to your child and reach an agreement about what is suitable for your family. Remember, the time will come when they will access the Internet outside the home’s safety, and you want them to be prepared for that. Constantly monitor your child’s time online, particularly younger children. Keep the computer in a central spot in the home where it’s easy to keep an eye on what your child is doing and viewing online.
We are not always satisfied with the amount of time our child is in front of the screen. Especially during a pandemic and distance learning. Read a helpful article about reducing screen time on this popular parent’s blog.
3. Take your child seriously if they report an uncomfortable online exchange
Don’t wait until the heat of the moment to come up with your game plan. If your kid gets bullied online, learn what the proper responses are so you can keep your emotions in check and help your child deal with what they’re going through.
Steps to Take If Your Child Has Been Bullied:
- Pay attention
- Ask questions
- Acknowledge their feelings
- Block the bully
- Could you report it?
- Assess the damage
- Enlist reinforcements
Lead by example and consistently model the positive online behavior you would like your children to use. If they see you being cautious and respectable when you are online, they are more likely to follow in your footsteps. And, yes, this includes limiting your own screen time. Ultimately, you don’t want to instill fear in your child or prevent them from experiencing the many educational, entertainment, and social benefits of the Internet, but rather give them the skills and knowledge they need to know how to make the most of it and avoid the dangers.