There are a lot of “firsts” that children and their parents go through, from first steps to first bike ride.
But now in the digital-connected age, add another milestone to that list: a child’s first time using the Internet.
While the World Wide Web can seem an endless expanse of uncensored content and unseemly websites, children can learn to navigate the Internet safely. Try some of these following tips to get your child surfing the web securely.
Try a web browser made kid-safe
One good starting-off point to get your child on the Internet is to make sure they use a web browser specially designed to provide a kid-appropriate experience. These browsers (see one list here) will have a good selection of content such as videos and activity games. Some will block off access to anything on the Internet except curated content, while others will open up the web but apply a filter on it that serves up kid-appropriate websites only.
Pre-approve their sites
Often, children will want to go to websites of the brands that they like. This brand “engagement” (i.e, getting children to go from watching a TV ad to interacting with that brand online) is a hot topic for marketing experts. But these sites can also be highly addicting. So, if your child wants to check one of them out, have him or her jot down the name of it. Then, the parent should visit the site and get a feel for how it operates – a kind of screening process. If the site passes muster, you can give them the all-clear to visit it.
Make sure your children understand that they need your permission before jumping onto the Internet. And if they’re engaging in websites with other web users, you can check that they know how to raise red flags through the website about any misbehaviour – such as if someone asks them for personal information.
Other good rules to instil in your child are that they should never, under any circumstance, share their password, pretend to pass themselves off as another person, be mean or abusive towards other Internet users and, of course, never, ever give out information such as their name, age and address. And, in this age of manipulative advertising that installs software, make sure they know not to click anything that offers to install a program.