Cyber Space Safety Tips for Children

The times are becoming very interesting and challenging at the same time. Adjusting to the new normal is quite a task for everyone globally.

All over world, over 188 countries have shut down their physical educational system and shut down schools. Schools that have online platforms and capabilities are at an advantage while some governments are trying to support the public schools with some form of tutorials on television.

Our country is a peculiar one with the challenge of “no electricity or power supply”, this cuts off these class of children and they are losing out on education. For advanced countries, who have adopted schooling-home even before the pandemic it is just a matter to time adjusting smoothly to the new normal.

For families who can afford access to the internet, a laptop or desktop or smart phone to start off home-schooling and online classes, new skills can be developed during this period. Studying remotely will enable smart children to pick on new skills, discovering their talents and discovering new things on the internet. However, majority of us are online as you reading this piece and the cyber space is not as safe as we imagined especially for our children at this time where a lot of online tutorials and activities are on-going, you need to be vigilant and “#keepthemsafe”.

Here are a few tips to help you keep your children safe while on the internet as most of them use our laptops and computers.

  1. 1. Lock devices with passwords or passcodes: Use passwords that combine letters, numbers and special characters. Make it difficult for anyone to unlock your child's device remotely to gain access to any personal information especially apps they visit often.
  2. 2. Set Privacy settings: Social media websites, apps and web browsers all have privacy settings that helps control who can see their information and what they see. Customize these privacy settings so personal information such as names and contact details are hidden.
  3. 3. Respect: Teach your teenagers how to be respectful towards other users online and not to post anything that could be hurtful or harmful.
  4. 4. Be vigilant: Keep an eye on the sites they are visiting and who they are talking to. Always keep the communication lines open with your children. Consider using the apps or sites your children frequent to get a hang of how they work, better still have them show you.
  5. 5. Don't divulge information: Warn them never to give out their personal information to anyone online or to share their pictures with anyone online. Teach them the kind of information that should never be shared online such as where they live, full date of birth, full names, name of schools etc.
  6. 6. Impose rules and consequences:
  7. 7. Use common area: Keep the computer in a common area where you can watch and monitor your kids. Avoid putting a computer in a child's bedroom.
  8. 8. Use shared email: Share an email account with your younger children, that way you can monitor who is sending them messages. You can also have your email set up as a default recipient to all emails sent out and received.
  9. 9. Collect mobile phones at night: Have your child/ren turn in to you all mobile devices before they go to bed.
  10. 10. Bookmark your child's favorite sites: Your child will have easy access and be less likely to make a typo that could lead to inappropriate content.
  11. 11. Monitor your kid's use of social networking: Sites such as facebook, instagram, twitter etc. Be aware of what information is being revealed and what information can unknowingly identify your child. Be friends with your kids on all their social media accounts.
  12. 12. Consider istalling parental control filtering software and/or tracking programs: This will help protect your children from online predators and inappropriate adult content. However do not just rely on these tools, your children will benefit more from having a direct conversation with you as a parent.
  13. 13. Limit Screen Time that your child is allowed.
  14. 14. Know their online friends: If your child has a new friend online, insist on being introduced online to that friend.
  15. 15. Check their browser history: Always check the browser history of sites your kids have visited and for younger kids, they can use safer browser like kiddle.com. Advice they not to click on pop-up ads, or download any attractive looking games. This could lead to porn sites or hackers.

Overall message: While it is important to respect the privacy of children and youth, safety sometimes trump these privacy concerns especially at this time where so many are bored and very much less busy which makes them prone to mischief across cyber space. Be sure to let your children know about your concerns about the cyber space and if you have any reason to be concerned, you will review their online communication. This will definitely open up discussions about internet safety and use in general.

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