Since the COVID-19 pandemic progresses, most people spend more and more time online, including children who use the internet to connect with their friends and teachers to virtually do school activities from home.
This is also a challenge for parents to ensure digital space is safe for children.
According to Amber Hawkes Facebook Asia Pacific Head of Safety, the main thing parents can do is to start conversations and create open ways of communicating.
“Conversations about safety online should be a part of everyday life – like conversations about ‘stranger danger’ or vigilance when crossing the street, and those conversations have to start early,” Hawkes said.
As part of the conversation about safety online, children must understand that access to electronic devices and the internet must be based on responsibility. They also have a role to play in keeping themselves and others safe online.
To coincide with World Safer Internet Day which is commemorated every February 9, Hawkes provided five tips for keeping children safe online.
Safety Tips for Parents to Keep Children Safe Online
1. Stay involved in their digital world:
Spend time with your kids online. If your kids like playing video games, sit with them while they’re doing this. If your teen is on Facebook or Instagram, have a discussion about friending or following them.
Talk to them frequently about who they are connecting with and what they are sharing. Let them know they can come to you if they see or experience something online that makes them feel uncomfortable.
2. Use privacy and security settings:
Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger have settings to give people control over what they share, who they share it with, what they see, and who can contact them. Many of these are turned on by default for minors, but you should run through the privacy and security settings regularly.
3. Set family rules:
Agree as a family on the rules for using devices, accessing the internet and social media and be clear on the consequences for violating these rules. Depending on the age of your kids, you may talk about more serious consequences (such as legal consequences) of sharing certain types of content such as non-consensual intimate imagery.
4. Lead by example:
If you set a rule like ‘no screen time after 8 pm’ or ‘no devices in the bedroom’ – you should try to follow this too.
5. Learn from your kids:
Technology evolves constantly, and young people are fast adopters. If your kids start using a new app, ask them to show you how it works. It’s an opportunity to connect with your child, see what they are doing online and have a conversation about online safety. You should also do your own research on the app’s privacy, safety and security features.