Today, life is a combination online and offline activities. While the web can be a great tool, it can also present problems. As a parent, you are responsible for the role that the web plays in the lives of your children.
We are online nearly constantly. For a significant amount of time now, our ability to connect to the internet hasn’t required a computer – our children access the web using tablets, smartphones, TVs – you name it. The internet is everywhere and shows no signs of slowing down.
“When I was young, SMS messages were a big thing. Today, kids barely use them. They use messaging apps like Snapchat and WhatsApp instead. With so many different messaging apps, parents rarely know what goes on with their child. That’s why it’s important that your children know what to do when they encounter something that is hazardous,” says Mikael Albrecht (@micke_fi), alumnus security specialist at F-Secure Labs.
You can get a good idea of what your child’s life is like, how they see the web, and how they use it when you discuss the topic with them. This lets you talk to your child about the web and set some rules, for example, how they should never agree to meet up with a stranger that they met online or do things that they feel uncomfortable with.
By talking to your child about online threats and other negative aspects of the web, such as cyberbullying and trolling, you can teach them how to react when they encounter these issues. This teaches your child how to avoid bad things and also creates a transparent relationship in which your child can talk to you if anything negative comes up.
These days, taking part in online interactions is a natural part of socializing. Children who are denied online access often find themselves on the outside, in both the digital and “real” worlds.
“My best advice is to be a part of your child’s online life instead of trying to control it by limiting it. Using Facebook is not enough anymore; if your children use WhatsApp, you should use it, too. Most importantly, dare to talk about the web with your child,” says Albrecht.
Here are a few topics related to the internet that you can talk about with your child:
- Examples of online threats that they may face, and in the case that they encounter any of these threats, how they should handle them
- Their rights and responsibilities online
- What types of online content you want your child to avoid and why