With the pandemic continuing on, and therefore fewer options for outside recreation, odds are your children are spending more and more time online. While there are plenty of enriching activities and information online, there are also a lot of opportunities for negative and even harmful interactions.
It’s up to you as a parent to limit such negative interactions as much as possible. This can seem difficult, especially if you have your own busy schedule to consider. However, there are a few relatively simple approaches you can take. To help you keep your kids safer when they’re online:
Use Technology to Teach Kids About Safety
There are lots of child-friendly games and movies out there. And many of them have been developed specifically to help teach kids more about safety in a variety of online and real-world situations. Children who enjoy video games in general are more likely to react positively to this approach, feel more engaged to the topic, and actually retain the information better.
Kids can learn about cyber safety or road/automotive safety, the importance of physical activity, how to act in case of a fire or medical emergency, and so forth. Just perform a simple web search for the specific topic–i.e. “interactive cyber safety games,” “interactive fire safety games”—and you are likely to find at least a few options.
Monitor Online “Friends”
Not all of the people who are friends with your child on social media have good intentions. Bullies, trolls, and online predators take it for granted that parents don’t keep a close eye on their children’s social media. That’s why it’s a good idea for you to keep track of who your children are interacting with online.
While you don’t want to constantly invade your child’s privacy, you should periodically check on the identities of any social media friends who you don’t really know. If it turns out that a contact is an adult stranger, you may have cause to worry…and reason to have your child unfriend them immediately.
Check Out Safety Ratings
Take the time to check on the themes and ratings of the video games and movies your children watch online. The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) rates video games, with ratings ranging from E (everyone) to A (adults only) and content descriptors highlighting why the game has been rated like it has.
Meanwhile, movies are rated by the Classification and Ratings Administration (CARA), also with explanations about what determines a rating. They range from G (general audiences) to NC-17 (no one under 17).
Make Online Time Family Time
Work and other obligations may keep you from spending as much time with your kids as you’d like. But as time permits, why not involve yourself in the technology that your children love? Play a game with them, or watch some videos together. It’s a great way to spend some quality time together with your child, while also ensuring their safety online.
With just a little added effort on your part, you can make the Web a more educational and safer place for your child to spend time.