Every generation of families faces new technology challenges, but everybody’s goal remains the same: maximize the benefits and minimize the risks. This is not easy in a fast-changing digital world where parents often feel their children know more about technology than themselves.
Here are some general guidelines you may find useful in keeping children safe online, depending on their age:
In this age range, a parent’s main questions are when children should have access to a smart gadget and for how long should s/he use it daily. Although it is a personal decision, rules and boundaries must be set.
Pre-schoolers will probably use apps designed for them (and downloaded by parents) and start watching their favorite shows and cartoons.
6 – 10
As internet use grows, it is time for the first talks about what cybersecurity means and the basic rules to staying safe online. Watching online videos and playing online games are favorite online pastimes at this stage.
Tell them you are using a parental control app and explain why and how it keeps your family safe. It is important that they know and agree on boundaries, as most children will learn by this age how to download new apps and games, use search engines, browse social media and, last but not least, avoid / delete parental control apps from smart gadgets.
Although 13 is the minimum age limit for most social media platforms, including Facebook and Instagram, most children go social earlier. They feel they’ve become more confident internet users, and many are. But there are some risks associated with social media apps.
Cyberbullying, harassment, chatting and meeting strangers face to face are the most common hazards, and it’s vital to continue discussing online safety with them.
At this age, children use the Internet to research school projects, but they also spend much time exploring the fun side of it, as they download music, movies and TV shows, play online games and get the latest on their favorite celebrities.
As your child becomes a teenager, the internet will be a part of their daily life. They may have to deal with many challenges specific to the age. Talk to them about being responsible when they’re online, expectations and family values relating to how to behave online.
Stay interested in what they’re doing, even if sometimes they seek to avoid or reject parents’ interference. Bring up challenging issues like sexting, pornography, gambling and cyberbullying, as you’ll both benefit from the subjects being out in the open.