Life and relationship coach (and dad) Ben Edwards gives his tips on how to protect your child while also educating them on the need for caution
With tablet ownership ever increasing, it's vital to be educated on web safety
Nowadays it’s almost unheard of for a child to not own a tablet, smartphone or laptop. The internet is such a great resource for their homework and enjoyment, so prising them away from a screen can be difficult. Social networking sites are largely how our children communicate with their friends outside of school time, too.
While there are many benefits to our children using technology, the internet contains features which should be avoided to protect their safety. This is easily done - but parents are often unsure where to start, because of a lack of education surrounding the topic.
To help you put your mind at rest, here are key things to look out - and how to discuss them with your child...
Look out for the padlock to put your mind at rest
Always look for the padlock
Understandably, many children will not pay attention to the type of website they’re visiting and before they know it, information on the device has been stolen. One key area to look at is the URL tab - if the padlock is present, it means your information is encrypted and kept safe from potential hackers. This is another way of saying that the website is safe to browse on, especially if you’re paying for an item and putting your card details.
If you cannot see a padlock whilst your child is browsing, get off the site as soon as possible. Show this to your child and make them aware of the padlock. This a simple process and something children can easily keep an eye on.
Be aware of ads
As part of a website’s financial scheme, adverts will be placed around the site to firstly make the company money, and secondly to encourage users to visit the page. However, these adverts are often scams and will take users to an unknown website, so teaching your child never to click them is vital.
Children and teens will most likely not want to be distracted from the game they’re playing or social media chat, so informing them that they will be taken to another page if they click on the ad should rectify this issue straight away.
Computer safety was a lot simpler for 1990s parents
Friend or foe?
Although the internet is often a wonderful tool for talking to others and keeping in touch with friends, it does have a somewhat dangerous side when it comes to communication. Having open conversations with your children about these risks will lessen your worries about strangers online.
Emphasise that talking with people you don’t know can be problematic. Meanwhile, regularly check your children’s internet activity to ensure they’re being safe online.
The façade of social media
Many of the risks we associate with internet use surround stolen information and stranger danger. While these topics are incredibly important, we also need to consider the more subtle risks the internet poses to our children’s well being and self-esteem.
For example, social media now largely defines a generation and it’s easy for young users to be guided by the façade of Instagram models and influencers. These bloggers often portray a perfect life with carefully selected photos and decadent holidays. However, this does not reflect a realistic lifestyle and children may place undue pressure on themselves to look and/or behave in a certain way. Talk this through with your children and encourage a positive detachment from social media where necessary; sometimes all of us need a little reminder that life isn’t always perfect and that’s absolutely fine.
For more information regarding child relationship coaching, visit facebook.com/officialbenedwards