3 Internet Habits to Keep Kids Safe and Smart

habitsCan you make the Internet a safer place for kids? All parents what their children to be happy and protected while they are online, it is a common concern. It is somewhat easy to manage and watch the younger kids while they are staring happily at the Disney Jr. website. However, the risks increase significantly as children get older and become more independent.

You have most likely heard of the term ‘cyber safety’ a time or two before, but safe usage of the Internet goes past warning them about strangers. The focus now needs to be on ingrained habits due to the evolution of the Internet and the way it is intertwined into our lives. This means making sure your kids have the predefined responses to online events and tools so that no matter the events, they are not placing themselves, or your family, at risk. Forming these habits are easy and begin with three basic principles:

downloadDownloads are a no-go

Most of our children cannot tell the difference between a scam/malicious link and a legitimate download. It is not the fault of the children, the world online is full of stuff that will trick even the most tech savvy adult. The difference between a savvy adult and a kid, is that kids tend to not take the time to check where the link is pointing, read what they are agreeing to, or even question if it is too good to be true. Most kids want to get back to playing their game or doing whatever it was they were doing, and if something pops up or appears on the screen, their first response is usually to click “yes” or “ok” just so it goes away. Regretfully, that single click of “yes” or “ok” may just open the doors to malware and viruses that can ruin a computer. Parents or guardians should set a rule that they need permission from you for all downloads and that they should never click on a popup. When the child calls you over to give the download permission, or to check that popup, talk the child through exactly what you are checking and why. As those children mature, get them active in the process so they form safe habits that extend outside the home and their computer.

critical thinkingCritical thinking is a must

Most young people can’t imagine life without the Internet and look to it as a magical place. To kids, the Internet is as important as oxygen! With the kids believing this comes their unwavering trust that the web would never trick them, lie to them or hurt them. While most adults know better, it is only because adults already view the web with a certain level of distrust. The absolute best way to keep children safe on the Internet is to teach them to approach it with critical thinking. And this critical thinking includes teaching them to question the motives of other people online. Is that person they are gaming with really a kid? What does the person really want? Regretfully, all children need to be aware that predators use the web to lure and target kids. Make sure your kids tell you immediately if a stranger makes contact with them. Along with this old fashion stranger danger, you will need to teach them to identify what marks something as suspect and what they should avoid. If the children come across anything inappropriate, they should shut down the computer and come straight to you.

foreverThe internet is forever

Children have an overwhelming drive to contribute to the web and they do not think twice about making videos, chatting in a chat room or posting on social media. The Internet really has become the new playground for kid! What they often don’t understand until it is too late, is that anything they upload, post, write or say is on the web forever. Even if they delete the upload or post from social media, or whatever, someone can still screenshot and send it right back out for others to see. Many of today’s cyber-bullying cases are based around this exact type of activity. Once children understand that everything they place on the web is permanent, they will more likely pause and think about what they are about to do.

If you need help protecting your children and keeping your family safe while online, contact Brochin.net.

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