Keeping kids safe online is something that you must be very purposeful about as a parent. In a world that is becoming more online and less offline every day, we need to be more vigilant than ever when it comes to internet safety and our children.
In surveys, 41% of parents admitted that they had no idea what their young people were doing online; 97% of guys and 93% of girls admitted to viewing porn by age 18. With those statistics, we can’t grow slack in this area.
How to keep your child safe on social media
In a previous post I talked about Problems With Social Networking. We need to be aware and wise as we set guidelines for what we allow our young people to do online. Whether that be social networks like Snap Chat, Instagram, email, or texting.
We need to set up guidelines to help our children/teens, and also be sure there is accountability to keep them from temptation. This is a good opportunity to teach our young people self-control, and how to set boundaries for themselves.
As parents, we MUST have a plan, and we must be vigilant to protect and guide our young people as they enter the online arena.
Teaching Your Child Internet Safety
Building trust and responsibility online is something we need to actively teach our children. Some of these tips are for when your kids are first allowed on social media, or have a phone. At that point they have the opportunity to earn your trust and prove themselves to be trustworthy, as you are helping them by creating safe boundaries, and checking up on them.
You should gradually give more freedom and less checking between the ages of 12 on up, and by age 17 or 18, shouldn’t be reading their texts & emails. Teens needs privacy, but they have to earn it in the younger teens years.
When you stop doing this should depend on the trust the child has earned, and if they’ve proven themselves to have wisdom and self-control.
Here are 10 Tips For Keeping Kids Safe Online:
1. Don’t give your kids online (or cell phone) privileges until they have earned that right by proving to be trustworthy. (Don’t allow internet on phone.)
2. Explain at the onset what they can or cannot do online. If they break those rules, they lose the privilege till they prove again they can be trusted.
3. Have a set amount of time that they are allowed online, and a stated purpose for doing so. (i.e. I want to text a friend or I want to check my Instagram) Do not allow random surfing or searching.
4. Have the internet location in a public place like the living room or family room. Have the screen facing out where others can see it as they walk by.
5. Know your child’s password to all accounts, and regularly monitor their activity by logging in. (randomly check phone log/texts as well.)
6. Assume your children will find ways around boundaries that are set. Not to say you don’t trust them, but there are ways to get around things that may even seem harmless to your child, but can still make them vulnerable. Talk to your friends who have kids, or even your older children and ask them for things you should watch out for. When it comes to internet threats, teenagers and young adults really have a good idea of what’s out there that we need to be aware of.
7. In your child’s social media bio, make a note that the account is monitored by Mom. This is a simple, low-tech way to deter some of the predators who may try to reach out to your child.
8. Teach your children to be aware that people with bad intentions can pretend to be their “friend” on the internet. We need to know what is currently happening so that we can be ahead of how to keep our children safe from online predators.
9. Don’t allow your teen to be online if no one is home. Having a password on your computer is a good way to ensure no one gets online unless you are there to let them.
10. Have a filter on the internet. There are many to choose from .K9 Web Protection is a free internet filter with parental controls. Covenant Eyes is also a very good one, and worth the low monthly cost. MM Guardian is another good option. And do not allow them to clear the internet history ever. (or their texts) Check the history regularly, but at random times, and clear it once you have checked it.
Safeguarding Your Childs Heart
Probably the most important thing you can do is win the heart of your young person. If you have their heart, they are much more likely to trust you have their best interest in mind when you set up the guidelines, and they aren’t near as likely to fight the boundaries. However, it is still wise to be proactive!
Character training from the time your kids are young and all the way through the teen years is also important. Teaching and helping them to grow in areas such as self-control, virtue, obedience, discernment and other character traits will help them when they begin to have a little more freedom online.
Social media isn’t the enemy, Satan is.
Realize that the devil can and will use the power of the internet.
“Be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” I Peter 5:8
The internet can be a wonderful tool, but also a scary place. The most important thing we can do as parents is teach our children how to be safe on the internet. Don’t let the devil win. He will try, but with these 10 tools and armed with the Word of God, we can instill in our children respect for the internet and the temptations they will face there.