With children across the nation spending more time at home, they are most likely spending more time online as parents and caregivers try to keep kids educated, entertained, and calm. Many of their activities has shifted online – classroom learning, chats with grandparents and friends, even sports and music lessons.
We know children make mistakes. Multiple studies have shown kids often will not go to parents and caregivers when something bad happens online because they think parents will not understand. If your family has children at home, these are some of the things you can be doing now:
- Teach your children what is safe. Work with your children to establish rules on how, when and where devices can be used. Have an honest dialogue about who they communicate with and how.
- Keep your children in sight. Ensure the computer is centrally located. Your children are less likely to browse questionable content if they know you might walk by at any moment. This helps you monitor time spent online, selected activities, and resultant behavior.
- Know with who your children interact. Protect your children by being aware of with whom they hang out in real life and chat online. If you suspect they are hanging out with an unacceptable crowd, it is better to step in earlier rather than later. Kindly explain to them any concerns you may have.
- Block sites. Do not let your children stumble upon unacceptable content. Prevent this by blocking sites you know they should not be on. This can be done manually or through available parental control software and plugins. Verify the software is reputable and safe.
- Limit and monitor usage. Permit your children to have online time to instant-message friends, play games, or visit social networking sites. However, make it a rule family time starts with dinner. After that, the computer is to be used for homework, and it is an instant-message free zone.
- Do your homework. Provide your children with enriching sites. Be cautious of free online educational resources. Get involved in some of their activities, encouraging healthy and stimulating education and games. Afterwards, check their browser history regularly to know where your children have been online. Ensure you use security tools and enable privacy features for extra protection, whether offered by your browser, Internet service provider or purchased separately.
- Protect your children’s identity. Remind your kids never to give out personal information, such as name, home address, or telephone number, to anyone they do not know. Talk with your children about the online risks of interacting with strangers through the computer or mobile devices, and sending notes and personal pictures into cyberspace.
Spending time at home with family can be a wonderful opportunity for your children to use their voices online to share their views and support those in need. Encourage your children to take advantage of digital tools that get them up and moving, like online exercise videos for kids and video games that require physical movement. Balance online recreation with offline activities, including time outside, if possible.