As parents, we can’t stop our kids from being online. No matter which side you’re on about how long is too long for kids to be on electronic devices or how you feel about remote learning, we can all agree that the internet is a necessary resource for kids today. From doing homework, to studying, and attending class; the internet is required for kids to learn. Studies show that kids without computer and internet access do worse in school than their friends that do.
However, as parents and adults we know that the internet doesn’t come without flaws. We need to be aware of what our kids are up to and to talk about internet safety with them when it’s appropriate. If your kids are almost ready to use internet enabled devices, then it’s time to talk about internet safety. Talk to them, arm them with the knowledge they need to stay safe and be there for them when they need it. To help you with this, we’ve put together this guide on how you can talk about internet safety with your kids.
1. Understand Internet Safety For Yourself
Before you sit down and start discussing internet safety with your kids, make sure you understand it for yourself first. Know how to stay safe online, where dangers are lurking and what your kids like to do online. You can also call your internet provider to help you in restricting websites that is not kid friendly. Only when you have the necessary knowledge, will you be able to teach internet safety to your kids.
2. Keep The Conversation Going
It’s not enough to have a one and done conversation about internet safety. Think of your first conversation as the beginning of many little conversations about being safe online. You don’t want to come on too strong with long lectures or nagging, but you do want to find out what they’re up to online and offer real advice they can use.
3. Create A List Of Rules, But Don’t Be Overbearing
While creating a list of rules for the internet, invite your kids. Involving them in the conversation early will gain their trust, ensure they understand the rules and will give them incentive to follow them. You don’t need to make hard rules to get your kids to be safe online. Be flexible and understanding when you can. For example, kids get more homework than we did as kids. They’ll need the computer more than we understand to do the work and submit it, that means they’ll need more time online, some days than other days and for your kids to be successful, they might require more time.
Also keep in mind these rules will evolve as your kids get older and the way they use the internet will start to change. Your list of rules won’t be forever and will need to be amended at some point. When that time comes, you’ll know and inviting your kids to amend them will have the same positive effects.
4. Stay Positive, Put Negative Reinforcement Away
Whether you’re continuing your conversation about online safety, giving helpful advice or addressing issues surrounding your kids online behavior; it’s best to keep your cool and stay positive. It’s okay to be worried about your kids or be disappointed when they don’t behave to the expectations you’ve set for them. However, yelling, screaming, giving harsh punishments or worse isn’t helpful and can have the opposite effect of what you’re trying to achieve. Studies show that negative reinforcement can cause your kids to hide their problems instead of confiding in you when they need to the most.
5. Be The Best Role Model You Can Be
So, you think you can talk the talk, but have you been walking the walk? It’s not enough to talk about online safety and hope for the best. Your kids are more likely to be safe online and follow your rules when they see you’re taking it all seriously too. You are your kids best role model and they soak up your behavior like a sponge. Kids emulate behavior, positive or negative and how you choose to act is a large part of that.