Using the internet is a great way for children to learn, explore and socialise – it offers kids an abundance of information and has many positive and valuable uses. However, as every parent knows, the internet also poses some very real risks to children.
It is very important for parents to stay abreast of current online trends and the way in which kids use the internet. All home computer time should be supervised by parents and all devices with internet connectivity should have content filters – including all PCs, laptops, tablets and smart phones.
You can help educate and empower your kids to seek positive and safe online experiences, with these basic tips:
* Teach children that information found on the internet is not always accurate. This can include people pretending to be someone they are not.
* Ensure children are aware that there are constant risks when surfing the web, including identity theft, misuse of personal details (e.g. credit card details), cyber bullying, and inappropriate sexual messaging known as ‘sexting’.
* Encourage children to think before posting anything online, and ensure they are aware that you can never permanently delete anything once it has posted online.
* Teach children how to use privacy settings, and how to keep their passwords safe.
* Discourage children from replying to bullying or threatening messages or to meeting up with unfamiliar people they have communicated with online.
* Make sure children never provide personal details to any website or person online unless they have checked with you first.
Above all, keep the lines of communication open with your children. Encourage your kids to come and talk to you about anything that has made them feel uncomfortable when they have been online – and always allow them this opportunity without judging them or being angry or upset with them. For further information, visit www.cybersmart.gov.au