Nine tips for introducing your children to digital life
First generation born with screens, today’s children have become used to having a smartphone, tablet, or computer at their fingertips.
The digital revolution has completely changed lifestyles and interactions. Applications for children are multiplying on the blinds: to develop language, creativity and memory, learn to count, draw, discover shapes, colors, fall asleep more easily… They seem harmless or even educational.
While 2 out of 5 parents admit that they do not know the right settings to protect their children’s personal information, Google has published a short guide to best practices for the digital family experience. Useful advice for supervising children’s first steps on the internet, but also for being able to anticipate possible problems.
Too many apps out there?
In 2022, more than 4 million applications can be downloaded from the App Store.
Many of them are designed to:
- entertain you
- keep you informed
- improve your life in some way
But do not forget there are also many that can be used by predators as a way to lure and exploit unsuspecting children.
The Dangers of the Internet for Children
Phishing has long been a security issue for Internet users. It is the practice of “fishing” for useful information through surveys, questionnaires and emails designed to generate interest and generate responses. Children are particularly vulnerable to this unless they are warned of the dangers.
Catfishing is a more recent problem but one with much wider repercussions. Catfishing refers to the practice of meeting someone online, befriending them, and exploiting that relationship for other purposes. For children, this can go as far as acts of sexual harassment, moral harassment or worse. If a child is tricked into sending pictures of themselves via the web, it could easily turn into child pornography.
Cyberbullying is more common than you might imagine. It is the use of social media to force, threaten, coerce, or aggressively dominate someone. Social media apps make it easy to bully and be bullied because it’s done in a seemingly anonymous way. Not only that, the way some social media apps work means that a group of kids could pick on an individual and pour out their hate through that channel.
If there’s one thing the web is known for, it’s inappropriate content. It can range from racial subjects to violence, pornography or subversiveness and everything is easily accessible through social networks. If you care about what your kids see and do, you need to care about their internet-connected devices and the websites and apps they use.
The dangers of chats and instant messaging
One of the most popular forms of social networking are instant messaging apps and chat rooms, where users can communicate with each other through text messages.
These platforms have been criticized for their potential dangerousness. For example, Discord is an app criticized for allowing users to play internet games like Roblox without any supervision or security measures to protect them from predators.
In reality, private conversations with strangers are the starting point of grooming.
Casual conversation about common interests creates a sense of familiarity that can cause a child to let their guard down. Since this form of communication is so common these days, you might not think about it, but the danger is real.
Nine tips for introducing your children to digital life
1. Set limits
As stated before, Google’s Family Link lets you keep tabs on your kids’ accounts and devices as they explore the web. As a parent, you can see what apps your kids are using and how long they stay connected.
You can also set some internet filters to make your child’s browsing much safer. This way, you can control the content your son or daughter sees, and reduce the chances of your child encountering spam, inappropriate images, or phishing.
2. Think before posting
It is important to make your child understand that behind the screen there are billions of people. Everything he uploads, posts, writes, or sends can be read and shared by millions of people.
3. Set rules
A good framework and good rules are essential to control your child’s habits on the Internet:
- Using a filter, set how long your child can surf each day.
- Let your child go online only in a room where you are present. This way you can always keep an eye on him.
- Let your son or daughter use the webcam only with people he or she knows.
Also explain to your child that these rules are there to protect him.
4. Use child-friendly alternatives
Does your child often watch videos online? In that case, consider downloading YouTube Kids. Your child will find everything there: from children’s shows to workshops and music. Plus, automated filters, ratings, and parent feedback ensure YouTube Kids is a safe, kid-friendly environment.
5. Don’t give too much information
A child always has the reflex to answer a question. He is not necessarily aware that it is not useful to complete all the questions of an online form. You have to push him to ask himself about the person or the site requesting the information – a stranger to him -, what will it be used for and for what reason.
6. Analyze your child’s browsing habits
Checking your child’s search history every day is out of the question. But if you see increasing internet usage, that’s guesswork. It is important to monitor your child’s browsing behavior by talking about it.
Ask what games, TikTok challenges, and videos are going around the world, then do your research. This way you can always intervene if necessary.
7. Pay attention to his behaviour
The child must be encouraged to watch his language, not to be abusive, mocking or seek to humiliate on the internet. Don’t believe that your child is always the victim. He can also be the bully.
8. Give him the reflex to point out unpleasant situations
On all the networks, all the websites and all the platforms, there are places where the child can report something that shocks him, a person who is not behaving properly. You have to give him this reflex.
9. Keep your VPN on
The best protection for your children is to make sure their connections and use of the Internet are safe and to teach them to recognize bad people and bad uses of the Web. The first task is simple. This can be solved with a VPN.
VPN stands for Virtual Private Network, and it is the method used by businesses and governments around the world to keep connections secure. Among other things, a Premium VPN will hide your IP address so that no one and nothing can locate or track your child using digital markers. It will also create an almost invisible connection that hackers and cyberbullies cannot find.