The online world has undeniably influenced our children’s lives. Everything from education to entertainment to socializing is now online.
While keeping in touch with friends and peers can be useful for kids, the internet also poses numerous risks. Instant messaging, email, social media, and web forums are all used for chatting.
Since most children cannot avoid internet contact, parents and children must work together to ensure that online chat apps are utilized safely. This involves being transparent about which platforms are used, what issues are discussed, and who is involved.
This article will explore how kids communicate online, the risks associated with it, and what you can do to keep your child safe.
Risks Involved With Online Chatting
There are several risks associated with online discussion, some more serious than others, but all worth considering. Here are the primary threats:
- Phishing Scams
- Identity Theft
- Privacy issues
How To Stay Safe
Use A Virtual Private Network (VPN)
Another essential security tool is a Virtual Private Network. All traffic moving to and from your device will be encrypted, making it unreadable to snoopers, including hackers.
This is especially crucial if your youngster uses public wifi frequently. These networks are rarely secure, allowing hackers to steal sensitive information such as passwords and credit card numbers. When it’s recommended to avoid logging into accounts or making purchases while connected to public networks, a VPN can protect your data if it’s absolutely essential.
Use An Updated Antivirus Software
It’s easy to underestimate the importance of keeping operating systems and applications up to date. Security gaps are frequently patched through updates, making your computer or mobile device less vulnerable to malware that exploits those flaws.
In the fight against malware, having a decent antivirus program is also essential. Antivirus software can detect and prevent the installation of known malware on your device. Your antivirus software may be able to detect and remove it if it does get onto your device.
Put Parental Controls In Place
Some children’s applications include parental controls that allow you to limit what your child sees, regulate how they use the app, and check usage statistics. However, if your child is using an app designed for older children and adults, you will likely have very limited access to this type of data. Thankfully, you can monitor and manage devices and app use in the home using a variety of parental control tools.
Assist Them During The Account Creation Process
While you may prefer that your child have no online accounts at all, the safest method for them to use the internet is under your supervision. You’ll know exactly what they’re getting into if you assist them set up their accounts. A quick check for app reviews, for example, should reveal any major safety concerns. You may also learn more about who uses the app, including their age, interests, and what they do with it.
Most platforms restrict access to their services based on age, frequently as a result of government legislation. Most social media platforms, for example, have a minimum age requirement of 13 years old. This is because platforms aimed at children aged 13 and younger are subject to a different set of privacy standards. However, nothing prevents a minor from creating an account by misrepresenting their age.
Other sites cater to children of a younger age. Parents generally consider these to be safer, but there’s nothing to prohibit an adult acting as a child from creating an account and targeting youngsters. Many of these sites include detection techniques to detect grooming patterns in children, but this does not make them totally safe.
Let Your Kids Know They Can Talk To You About Anything
Maintaining an open and honest talk about the topic with your child is one of the best things you can do to assist them to navigate the internet world. This includes informing kids about the dangers, outlining criteria for which platforms to use and how to use them, and establishing boundaries for where, when, and with whom they can speak online.
Depending on your child’s age and maturity level, as well as the platforms they use, the issues and guidelines you discuss will differ dramatically. Setting guidelines such as staying in public chat rooms and not going to private forums, or seeking parental advice before accepting a friend request, are just a few examples.
When you have a lot of kids, it’s crucial to establish boundaries regarding where they can use their smartphone to talk. If you feel you need to keep a close check on the screen, put it somewhere where you can see it readily, such as a desktop computer in the family room. Child predators will try to persuade children to take their devices to their bedroom or bathroom, where they will be hidden from prying eyes.
It’s also critical that your child understands that he or she may come to you if they are uncomfortable in a circumstance. Children sometimes feel they have nowhere to turn for fear of being judged or punished, which leads to some of the worst scenarios. Learn more about the importance of having an open conversation with your kids here.
This post was developed via a partnership with BetterHelp.