Internet safety for kids: Dos and Don’ts of digital parenting

By: | Published: June 29, 2016 6:31 PM

According to the findings of F-Secure on 'Digital Parenting Do's and Don'ts, here are a few things to keep in mind, while being a digital mentor to your kids

According to the findings of F-Secure on 'Digital Parenting Do's and Don'ts, here are a few things to keep in mind, while being a digital mentor to your kidsAccording to the findings of F-Secure on ‘Digital Parenting Do’s and Don’ts, here are a few things to keep in mind, while being a digital mentor to your kids

Keeping your kids safe and sound is one of the most primary concern of a parent. Besides physical security, pyschological and social safety is equally important but helping kids grow up as responsible and independent adults is necessary for their overall development. But, how do parents maintain the balance between child safety and his independence in a society where both play an important role?

A recent article in the The Atlantic by tech researcher Alexandra Samuel highlighted different approaches to digital parenting.

Based on a survey, Samuel classified the parents into digital enablers, digital limiters and digital mentors.

Digital enablers were defined as parents who put little to no restriction on device usage by their kids while limiters try to limit the usage. Digital mentors, on the other hand, try to understand how kids use digital devices and is considered to be the most effective way to teach kids.

For example, Samuel found that digital limiters’ kids were three times more likely to impersonate a classmate, peer, or adult than children brought up by digital mentors.

According to the findings of F-Secure on ‘Digital Parenting Do’s and Don’ts, here are a few things to keep in mind, while being a digital mentor to your kids:

Digital mentoring protects kids, respects their boundaries and encourages them to grow into responsible adults. Besides talking to kids about their online activity, it is also important to respect privacy rights of children.

Responsible use of technology:
It is important to make children understand the importance of responsible use of technology so that they can ensure their own safety in the future when they adapt to new technology. For example, teaching to use strong passwords and changing account settings in social media.

“Online tutorials provided by service providers are typically designed to get people using the service as quickly as possible – not as securely as possible. But kids will rely on this information unless they know better, so getting kids used to taking advantage of privacy settings on their own can prevent them from exposing all kinds of information online,” said F-Secure Security Advisor, Sean Sullivan.

DON’T assume that kids really understand technology just because they know how to use it.

Lead by example:

Many of us have picked up bad online habits like using weak passwords or straining our eyes while using phones. Even though our bad habits may seem harmless, they can set a poor example for kids who get influenced easily.

“If parents don’t want their kids getting addicted to the internet, they need to put down their own phones and step away from their own laptops. If parents want their kids to enjoy being outside, they need to spend time outside themselves. Don’t just tell kids to follow rules – demonstrate that the rules work by making an effort to follow them yourself,” advised Sean.

DON’T use gadgets as pacifiers – they’re tools, not nannies or substitutes for other things kids need.

Offline and Online parental guidance: Even though it is claimed that Internet has changed the world, however, a parent’s advice applies at every step of life. While teaching your kids, not to be bullies, it is equally important to teach them not to cyber bully as well.

Teach young kids to avoid talking to strangers, both in real life and on the internet. You wouldn’t let your kids visit a dangerous place unsupervised, so don’t let them visit websites or use online services that could expose them to threats (security features like browsing protection and parental controls are tools to help you do this).

“A lot of the threats both kids and adults face online are social ones, so the internet has a lot of the same problems that people worry about offline,” says Sean. “Crime, for example is both online and offline, so teach kids to avoid it in both places.”

DON’T think that kids’ online and offline lives are completely separate. They’re growing up in a connected world, so teach them to live in one.

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