Online Safety and Children: What You Should Know

Children are undoubtedly the most vulnerable group when it comes to the different threats and risks that can be found online. With that in mind, in this article we'll tell you what you need to know about online safety and children.
Online Safety and Children: What You Should Know

Last update: 10 March, 2021

No one can deny that we’re all spending more and more time on our electronic devices online, and so are our children. Although they can make good use of the internet, children are also the most vulnerable to online dangers. So, we must take extreme precautions to ensure effective online safety for our little ones.

Online safety: Protecting your children

Nowadays, when we use the internet, we’re exposed to numerous risks that can seriously affect us. The effects may be on an economic level, such as phishing, or at a personal level, such as cyberbullying. However, if we take the necessary precautions, we can assure internet safety.

As far as children are concerned, they don’t need to be misusing the internet to be exposed to different threats. They may open a web page to search for information for a class assignment or to find online games and accidentally download malware.

Online Safety and Children: What You Should Know

These types of risks may be more visible to the eyes of an adult, but not to those of a child. This is a vulnerable population, and those who know this will try to take advantage of their innocence. For example, so-called online predators, who take advantage of the anonymity the internet offers to scam and manipulate.

As the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) states, even adults often fall victim to these scams. But children, who tend to be much more open and trusting, are an even easier target.

That said, what can we do to protect the little ones?

Keys to ensure effective online safety for children

  • Agree on boundaries together. It’s important to establish a set of rules and regulations before using the internet. For example, what your children can do on the computer, what websites they should stay away from, etc.
  • Inform them about the dangers. The aim isn’t to scare children, but to teach them to detect threats, avoid dangers, and help them become aware of the consequences.
  • Explain recommendations for good use. There are a number of issues that, although they may seem obvious to us as adults, aren’t so obvious to children. For example, explain to your children that they shouldn’t publish personal content on social networks. For example, their home address, cell phone number, passwords, etc… Also, warn them of the danger of trusting complete strangers.
  • Use the most appropriate technology. UNICEF advises parents to verify that the devices their children use have the latest software installed, and to keep privacy settings turned on at all times. They even recommend that they consider using parental controls.
  • Share time online together. Spending time with your children doing online activities is very positive, both for your relationship and for educating them about online safety. This can be an ideal opportunity to set an example for them to follow in the good use of the internet.

About online safety

Ultimately, when it comes to educating children about online safety, it’s just as important to warn and inform them about the risks and dangers as it is to teach them good internet habits. However, spending time with them online is one of the best ways to show them how to act and behave on the internet.

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