Nowadays, children are getting more exposed to the web and other forms of digital media. Daily, they use the internet for school, do research work, play games, and interact with their friends. Unfortunately, the internet can also put kids at risk. Identity thieves, online predators, scammers, and cyberbullies are just some of the safety threats they get exposed to.
Not all kids are aware of these online dangers. Thus, parents and guardians play a crucial role in keeping children safe online. Part of their responsibility is to ensure that children are well-informed and equipped with the right knowledge and skills. However, sitting them down for a much-needed ‘tech talk’ may be quite challenging or awkward. Luckily, there are various online resources and training modules that parents and guardians can access to best guide them in handling this situation.
Are you a parent or guardian who feels unsure how to talk to your kids about this sensitive topic? Fret not. Here are some easy-to-follow tips to help you get started and communicate better with your kids about online safety.
- Initiate conversations early and frequently
Teach your kids about their online behavior and safety as soon as they start showing an interest in using the internet and are allowed to use devices, such as mobile phones, laptops, and desktops. Starting conversations early builds a good foundation of trust and open communication between you and your child.
Just like educating them about life skills and good values, it may also take time to inculcate in kids healthy and safe online habits. Thus, you may want to check in on them often to keep the conversations going.
- Mind Your Tone
All parents have different parenting styles to correct and instill good behavior in their kids. But one thing is the same. All parents want to keep them away from any possible danger because they care for them.
When you sit down with your kids for a conversation, discuss your concerns gently. Emphasize that the rules and boundaries that you have set are out of love and concern and not because you want to restrict them. Discuss the issue casually with a soft, friendly tone. Bluntly saying it and using a high-pitched tone may only cause unnecessary resentment from your kids.
Give them the impression that you’re supportive of what makes them happy and simply concerned about their welfare.
- Show and Tell
Needless to say, before you start talking to your kids about online safety, you should also have the necessary knowledge about the internet, the possible safety risks, and the preventive measures that they can take. This way, you can better express yourself and not get confused by the internet jargon.
Typically, parents only use verbal language when having tough conversations with their kids. However, children may not think as collectively as adults, but they may see your point and follow you without question, through practical information that they can understand.
Discuss online safety with your kids in a simple manner. You may start by mentioning how convenient the web is, so they will know that you understand why they enjoy using the internet. Then, slowly direct the conversation to the online dangers that may potentially cause harm. It would also be more effective to talk about topics and raise your concerns one step at a time, so you both don’t get overwhelmed.
While in the conversation, you may use random links as an example. Show them what a random link looks like. Explain to your child that some strangers suddenly send links that have exciting thumbnails to attract their attention. However, as exciting as it may appear, inform them that clicking on random links can corrupt their computer system and steal their personal information.
This way, they get a clearer picture and become more conscious of what they should watch out for while online.
- Let Your Kids Express Their Thoughts
When talking to your kids about online safety, have an open mind, be positive and supportive to slowly gain their trust. Be open to the possibility that they know something that you don’t. Give them an equal voice as family members and let them feel that their thoughts and opinions matter.
The younger generation appears to be more literate when it comes to using online media and may be able to teach you more about it as well. By letting them speak up, you may also get a bigger picture of what they do, how it works, and what needs to be kept to a minimum or removed entirely. This would also help you establish rules with flexibility.
The web can be an excellent place for learning and entertainment for your kids. It is comprehensive and easy to access. However, just like other knowledge tools, it may cause harm. Children may benefit from using the internet if it is utilized with awareness and proper guidance.
In reality, parents and guardians cannot fully protect their children from online dangers. The best thing to do is to communicate with them to heighten their awareness and equip them with tools and skills so they can also protect themselves even when they are out of your sight.
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