Parents must make the internet a safe world
To ensure the online environment always remains a positive addition to a child’s life, parents need to keep the lines of communication open and tackle the risks of social media head-on with their kids, says Theunis Kotze, General Manager of ADT Inland Region.
“Online is an incredibly beneficial and exciting space for children where they can express themselves creatively, get help with homework and connect with family and friends. There are very real risks too, but by understanding these and talking about them with your children can help keep them safe online.”
Here’s some tips from ADT on managing online risks:
Explore: Suggest going online together and checking out various social media sites, websites, etc. that your child likes to visit. Show an interest in their online life as much as you would offline.
Who’s who? It’s crucial to know who your child is talking to online. Children often don’t see those they’ve met online as strangers, just online friends. Explain that it’s easy for people to be someone else online and get your child to commit to also friending a trusted adult, or a parent, in all the forums they use.
Rules are rules: Set rules and boundaries about the time your child can spend online, when they can go online, sharing of images and how to treat others online.
Check: Make sure of the privacy settings on any online accounts your child uses and talk to them about tools to report abuse.
“Being safe online is a lot about respecting yourself and others but the most important rule involves the sharing of personal information. Children should NEVER do this in forums, blogs or websites,” Kotze says.
In addition, children must always:
• Keep online friends online. They must never agree to meet online contacts in person and not hesitate to block a contact that makes them uneasy.
• Think twice before posting information online and not post comments that could embarrass them or hurt and offend others.
• Check with their parents before downloading content or purchasing items online. Many items are under copyright and credit card details could be at risk when purchasing from an unsecure site.
“Unfortunately, even the relative comfort of your child’s social circle can bring them face to face with situations where their judgement can be severely tested. Discussing some basic safety advice can empower them to take control of situations that could be challenging and ensure they’re safe in their online world,” Kotze concludes.