Online Safety for Kids: Should You Monitor Your Children’s Internet Use?

online safety for kids

According to findings from Pew Research Center, 95% of kids have a smartphone, or access to one, and 9 in 10 teens go online multiple times a day.

These high numbers make online safety for kids a priority for any parent.

This might explain why another recent assessment from Pew Research shows that up to 60% of parents monitor their children’s online browsing, and a further 35% hold the password’s to their kid’s social media accounts. 

Having kids involves a lot of decisions. From choosing a pediatric dentist (the ultimate priority for a dentist parent!) to deciding what time curfew should be.

Yet another decision to add to this list in these times is whether to monitor your kid’s online activities. Keeping your children safe online is of paramount importance. But doing this in the right way is just as important. 

If you don’t, you may end up endangering your kids rather than protecting them. If you want to find out how to go about making sure that your kid is safe and savvy on the web, then read on.  

What the Dangers Are

As a parent – and an adult internet user – you know for sure that there is stuff online that you do not want your kid exposed to. But what exactly is this stuff?

  • Cyberbullying: Being bullied is no fun, and the internet is an even easier place for people to engage in this than the school playground.
  • Online predators: The internet has been identified as a top tool used by child predators engage with and form relationships with kids. 
  • Sexting: According to research, 1 in 7 teens report to engage in sexting or the sending of explicit or suggestive texts that may involve media. Public sharing of these messages by the recipient as a prank can cause public embarrassment and a loss of privacy, especially if the communications included images or video. 
  • Identify theft: It doesn’t just happen to adults. Because kids and teens are prone to sharing more personal information online than adults, they can easily be targeted for things like credit card fraud. 
  • Explicit content: Pornography and violence that your child may stumble unwittingly upon or be pressured into watching. 

As you can see, these are very good reasons for making the internet activities of your kids a top safety priority. 

How to Keep Your Kids Safe Online

When one first thinks of the dangers that await kids online, your first instinct may be to take away their phone and ban them from the internet. But fortunately, there are a few less drastic ways that you can ensure your kid’s internet safety.

Start Early

With toddlers using smartphones more intuitively than their parents, it is never too early to begin to engage your child on safe online habits. The exact moment to start a dialogue will vary, but be sure to make online safety a topic that you and your child talk about from a young age.

Educate Them on Good Browsing Habits, Safe Sharing, and Online Privacy

Once you have a dialogue going, take every opportunity to educate your kid about good browsing habits, how to protect their online identity and the dangers of oversharing on social media.  

Join Them

If the opportunity ever arises that you can join your kids online – do so! An online gaming platform or a social media site may be the perfect place to hang together and learn from each other. 

Ask Them for Education

Speaking of learning from each other, make it a two-way street by turning to your kids for advice if you have problems using the latest app or gadget. 

Create Boundaries

To keep kids safe from explicit content, ensure that you childproof your home internet to protect them from inappropriate content. 

You should also set limits on screen time and entertainment time, as too much of both or either is not good. 

Let Them Know That They Can Come to You If There Is a Problem

If your teen does share personal information or images online and it is taken advantage of, it is vitally important that they are able to turn to you for help.

So, while it is wise to discuss the types of dangers that the internet poses with your kid and educate him or her on how to avoid them, it is also a good idea to make it clear that no matter what happens they can come to you. Even if they disobeyed your advice. 

What Not to Do

Besides all the things you can do to safeguard your child online, there are a few things that many would argue that you shouldn’t do. Such as monitoring browsing activity, having the passwords to your kid’s social media account and using these to login in and monitor their conversations.

While these practices are commonplace, there are many reasons why parents should not monitor their children’s internet use. 

For one, regularly going through kids browsing activity displays a sense of distrust. This could result in your kid becoming resentful and purposefully browsing content that you would not approve of, simply to rebel against what feels like a controlling and invasive attitude on your side. And let’s face it, if older kids want to hide their browsing activity, they can probably do it in numerous ways which we didn’t even know existed. 

Instead of policing their every Google search, you can learn about safe browsing for kids, and then teach these methods to your kids. 

When it comes to holding the passwords to kids social media accounts, and utilizing them to go in a read their conversations – this holds the same dangers. It also shows a lack of trust and faith. Going through your kid’s social media accounts regularly is also an invasion of privacy, similar to that of going through a child’s private diary or journal.

Something which almost no parent would do! 

Handling Online Safety for Kids Right Is Crucial

Balancing work and family life can be hard enough without the extra task of keeping your kids safe online. But, with the right approach and a collaborative attitude between you and your kids, the job might be easier than you think.

Online safety for kids is super important. What is even more important is teaching them to implement it for themselves so that they can take responsibility for the security of their online activities. 

If security is your top priority, then also check out this post where we share 10 ways to make your home more secure.