The internet can be both helpful and destructive. The online world is huge and filled with both good people and dangerous predators. Children should always be supervised in an age-appropriate way when online, and here are a few things a child should never do.
1. Chat Privately with a Stranger
Be clear with your child that this is one rule they must obey. They should never chat privately or exchange private messages with someone who they have not met in person. This can lead them into dangerous territory, and you as a parent would have no way of finding out what has been said. Your child should also never participate in a video chat with an unknown person.
2. Send Photos
Any photo that is sent or posted anywhere on the internet can live forever. Your child should never send a photo to a stranger, or even to a friend if there is no clear intent on what can be done with the photo. Even harmless photos can lead a dangerous person to your home, and can put your child and family in great danger.
3. Give Our Personal Information
Your child should never give out personal information of any sort to anyone on the internet. This kind of information can easily be used to commit fraud against you, or to put you or your child’s personal safety at risk. Let your child know that they should never give out details such as their first or last name, phone number, email address, mailing address, school, credit card info etc.
4. Agree to Meet a Stranger
You can never remind a child too many times about this. Never, ever meet an online stranger or even someone they consider an online “friend” in person. Predators are knowledgeable about how to groom young or naive people in order for them to let down their guard. This can be dangerous if your child begins to trust in the person and consider them a friend.
5. Download Apps without Permission
Apps and other online programs have safety risks to them. By downloading apps, you are often consenting to things you don’t fully understand, and that can jeopardize your computer or other electronic devices. Your child should always check with you first before downloading any app, even if it is one they have heard is safe.
6. Click on Links
Clicking on random online links can expose your computer to viruses and malware. Clicking on links can also lure your children to inappropriate adult material online. Children who cannot read can be especially susceptible to this, as they may see a bright picture and not realize it will lead them to a totally different website than the one they are on.
7. Do Searches
Searching online can be a dangerous endeavour. Children under a certain age should not be doing online searches, even on reputable search engines such as Google. The reason for this is because the wrong combination of words can trigger questionable material, and can lead your child to inappropriate content. If your child needs to search, they can ask you to do the search for them.
Using the internet is both a great privilege and a great responsibility. Don’t put this on your child before they are mature enough to handle either aspect of it. With a little wisdom, going online can remain a fun and productive activity, without the dangers.