The internet is an absolute minefield for parents. It’s a world that we cannot live without, especially for our children. Our children cannot get away from the internet, whether they are seeing us using our phones or they are using laptops in school. Rather than trying to shield our children from the internet, we’ve got to ensure that they have the moral compass to use the internet safely. This means we’ve got to encourage healthy online habits with the right balance. Let’s show you some tactics that can provide a solid foundation.
Leading by Example
It is the most important tool we have in our arsenal, and it doesn’t even involve a computer! The power of being a great parent is about leading by example in every single way. Therefore, we’ve got to show our children what healthy internet surfing looks like. It’s about having to impose limits on your own screen time too, but also about ensuring that your relationship with the computer is as effective as possible. We are not perfect, and we can go on websites that result in malware infiltrating our computers, but it’s important for us to know how to get rid of the malware and teach our children the importance of doing this as well. You can find out more on how to do this here.
It’s so important that we lead by example because if we are using the internet as something that our children are desperate to get at and we are imposing limits they will feel that stronger urge to use the internet for everything. Set those time limits, but stick to them yourself as well.
Explain Social Media Properly
When our children hit a certain age, they are going to want to have a social media account. Most of us have a social media account, and as our children in some respects want to be like us, a social media account is one way for them to start being more independent. You need to make sure that your child understands what social media should be doing. Social media is supposed to be about communicating with friends, rather than strangers.
You should also highlight that your child can’t reveal sensitive information like telephone numbers or their home address. You can help your child set up their own social media profile, and while you may want to entrust them with their own private password, there are tools available that you can use to monitor your child’s social media use. This is a comprehensive list that doesn’t just show you social media monitoring tools but can also help you to track your child’s location, emails, and a lot more. While we don’t necessarily want to be spying on our children if we can spend six months to a year monitoring their activities and understanding that they are using social media in a morally sound manner, this can give us far more peace of mind in the long run.
It is so important for us to stay in the loop when it comes to our child’s internet activity. You have to get an understanding of what they are using the internet for. The difficulty when it comes to moderating your child’s internet use is by ensuring you work with them. Naturally, children see us as a threat or a figure that will stop them from doing the things they want. There are a number of things that you could try and opt for the most effective method:
- Showing interest in their internet habits. If we can show our children that we are interested in the things that they want to do, this may make them more open and likely to talk about the things they do online.
- Use child safety apps. There is a variety out there with a number of web filters and features that allow for safe browsing. The trick is to ensure that you have all the relevant features switched on before your child starts using the internet. It is very easy to block websites with sensitive or adult content these days.
- Check their internet history. This might prove to be a sore subject, especially when you’re trying to show your child that you trust their abilities to surf the internet. But the best way to get around this is to simply have one computer for the household. This means that you can easily check their internet history. And if you log in with a very specific account on Google you can check their internet usage from your phone. But it’s about being observant, rather than stepping in to stop them.
- Ensuring they can talk to you. This is, in many respects, nothing to do with internet usage, but it’s about establishing a relationship with your child that is based on trust. Encouraging your child to share information with you may take a long time, but you have to start laying the foundations. Remember to not criticise them, otherwise, you will discourage them from sharing information with you again. Your child should feel like they can come to you with any problem, and as hard as it is for us to monitor our child’s activities as they get older, if we can build a relationship where our child can turn to us in any problematic situation, this means we can work with them towards a better solution.
We have to encourage healthy internet habits in our children. Arguably, it’s become more crucial since the pandemic. We may have given our children devices to keep them occupied while we struggled through in our home office. But whatever you did to keep your children occupied at the time may have resulted in some unhealthy habits. The fact is that it’s never too late to learn better browsing habits.
Our children are going to be exposed to this big wide world that, as parents, we are all concerned about. But if you grew up without the internet in your home, you may find yourself in for a big shock. Therefore, getting the tools in place now is going to help both you and your child.