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Home / Parenting

Ways to keep your child’s online experiences positive and safe

 Their safety on the internet is not certain and as a parent there are ways you can keep them safe online (Shutterastock)

The pandemic is impacting our families, work, relationships and even our parenting and safety efforts. Not even children are spared and they are particularly vulnerable and some of the implications might result in the adoption of unwanted traits among them.

With the kids now mostly indoors, they are endlessly spending time on their digital gadgets. Their safety on the internet is not certain and as a parent, or guardian, there are ways you can assist and keep them safe as they go about their businesses online.

We look at some five ways that can help you keep your children safe as they continue with their normal lives online:

1. Encourage open communication

You need to make your children understand that discriminatory, mean or inappropriate communication is unacceptable.

You need to have an honest dialogue with them about who they are communicating with and make them understand the value of kind and supportive interactions online.

As their trusted adult, you should encourage your children to openly talk to you about their online activities. This way, you are better placed to know if they are having inappropriate contacts or they are being cyberbullied.

2. Ensure they are using the latest software and antivirus programs

You need to check that the privacy settings in your child’s gadget are on and that the devices are running the latest software and antivirus programs. By ensuring your child’s device is running up-to-date software, you minimize unscrupulous data collection from them.

Also, teach your children about keeping personal information private when interacting with strangers online. For the younger children, you can rely on tools such as parental control and safe search to ensure that their online experiences are positive.

 By being online with your kids, you are creating opportunities where they can have safe and positive interactions (Shutterstock)

3. Be online with them

For instance, to help your child recognize and avoid misinformation about COVID-19, you can learn about the pandemic together through credible sources such as the WHO website so that you avoid any anxiety about the pandemic.

By being online with your kids, you are creating opportunities where they can have safe and positive interactions while connecting with others. As they keep in touch with family and friends, you have the opportunity to nurture kindness and empathy in their virtual interactions.

As you spend time with them online, you can also help them identify age appropriate apps, games and any other entertainment online.

4. Encourage healthy online habits

You need to encourage your children to be kind and respectful to their friends, classmates, cousins and whoever they are interacting with online.

You also need to monitor their online behavior especially on video calls. Be mindful of what the callers wear during these calls and discourage them from having video calls from a bedroom or joining video calls made from a bedroom.

You should also familiarize yourself with policies and helplines to report cyberbullying or inappropriate online content.

As your children spend more time online, they are likely to be exposed to more advertising promoting unhealthy foods, gender stereotypes or age-inappropriate material. Help them recognize online ads and you can use the opportunity to explore together what is wrong with some of the negative messaging you see.

5. Allow them to have fun and express themselves

This can be a great opportunity for your children to use their voices online to share their views and support the needy during the pandemic.

Also, encourage them to take advantage of digital tools that get them up and moving such as online exercise videos and video games that need physical movement.

 

  • Additional reporting: Unicef
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