Teaching Your Child to Safely Use the Internet

A child looking on the internet on a black laptop

The age at which children are introduced to technology seems to be getting lower and lower, which is great in many ways but can also be a cause for concern. After all, there are many risks lurking online and youngsters are being exposed to inappropriate content more often than one would like. With that said, it’s absolutely crucial for parents to discuss internet safety with their children from a young age and on a regular basis. Here is some advice from a private school near London.

Set Some Rules

First things first, agree on some boundaries. Get your child involved in the rulemaking process so that they feel respected and responsible for their own safety online. Ask them which websites and apps they think they should be allowed to use and if you disagree, be ready with your reasons as to why not. Listen to their counterarguments and be prepared to compromise. For instance, you could say something like “I’m happy for you to use this app, as long as you do so in a communal area of the house and allow me to have your login information”.

Make sure your child is aware that they can come to you about anything when it comes to the internet. Ask them on a regular basis if there’s anything they’re worried about online but try to avoid judgement when they do open up to you as they will be reluctant to do so again in the future if they feel that you’re not going to support them. Reassure them that you are interested in their life, both on and offline and aim to be positive when talking about the internet. Even if you are worried about a particular website, there are ways you can discuss this with your child without being accusatory or critical.

Discuss the Dangers

Do some research together about the dangers of these websites and apps. How much you choose to disclose to your child will depend on their age, as you won’t want to tell a 7-year-old about paedophiles, but it’s certainly worth explaining that sometimes people pretend to be someone they’re not online to cause other people harm.

Start these conversations young and repeat them on a regular basis so that it sinks in. You should also talk to your child about cyberbullying and explain that just because they are behind a screen, they are still hurting someone’s feelings if they post something mean online and they can still be caught out. Teach them the motto that if they wouldn’t do it face to face, they shouldn’t do it online.

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