The 21st century is relatively youthful, but it has already gained the nickname of being the onset of the Digital Age. Our children will grow up as digital natives; unable to remember a time when things had to be done in an analogue way.
While this offers a myriad of benefits, there’s no doubt that the internet and the devices we use to access it can have their downsides too. Striving to protect our children is something that all parents do almost as second nature, but the internet changes so very quickly that even the savviest and most concerned parent might have an issue keeping up.
Therefore, it’s sometimes worth a primer (or a reminder, if you might have fallen into bad habits) of the basics that can help keep kids safe in a world of constant connectivity. So, what are the golden rules of raising a digital native child?
RULE: The Wifi Password Changes Weekly
If your kids have unfettered access to the internet, that’s probably not a good thing. While all the safety measures and kid-locks on content in the world might seem sufficient, the truth is… they’re not. This is especially true if your kids are more tech-savvy than you are; there’s every chance they will reach a point where the barriers you put up to what they can access are easy to navigate around.
The one thing they can’t escape, however, is the need for Wifi. That’s why you should always restrict the data plan on their phone, too. You want to be able to know when they are accessing the internet, so changing your Wifi password on a regular basis means you can ensure there’s no internet browsing when they should be revising, for example. Some parents even request kids do chores before they get the new password, which might be something you want to consider!
RULE: All Downloads Go Through You
If your child wants to download something – be it from their computer or onto their phone – then you need to know about it. If they’re trying to download something you don’t approve of, then you can look for an alternative that offers the same functionality without the risks. You could guide them towards the Safe Kids app or give them access to your own online streaming service rather than letting them go with the first search result they find.
There are plenty of guides to help prevent unwanted installations on devices – so don’t be afraid to use them.
RULE: Don’t Fear Strangers, But Do Vet Them
It’s now fairly common for people to meet online and want to meet in person. The internet has opened up a whole new world of friends and people we might not otherwise have the chance to interact with, and your kids will be just the same.
So banning them from ever meeting someone they have met online is rather outdated. Instead, you can insist on being able to verify who the person is, right down to talking with the online friend of your child and their parents. Of course, should any meeting be arranged, then you need to be there to supervise. It might be more commonplace, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take sensible precautions where it counts.
The internet and its associated devices have so much to offer, and hopefully with the above, you can guarantee your child will experience nothing but the best of that.