Internet access provides us with ways to communicate with people all around the world. As technology use continues to increase with kids, kids are using it to develop and maintain relationships they normally wouldn’t have.
These online relationships can be great. Kids can meet penpals in other states or countries and learn a lot about new people, but these relationships can also be harmful.
Far too many parents are finding out their kids are forming toxic relationships or dealing with internet bullying. Internet safety is vital for protecting children from cyberbullying and toxic relationships online.
Here are some things you can do.
Talk About Internet Safety
Begin the conversation about internet safety at a young age. Before your child gets access to the internet, you should discuss internet safety. For very young kids, this may include telling you anytime they are messaged. Talk about the positives and potential negatives of the internet. Explain what is and is not appropriate behavior online, and come up with an action plan for handling any internet dangers, including internet bullying.
Monitor Internet Use
Especially at younger ages, kids still need guidance with internet safety. Monitor internet use. This may include check-ins and having the account information for their social media sites. Another way to help monitor internet use and ensure internet safety is by having the computer and internet-accessible devices only available for use in public spaces. Instead of allowing kids to bring phones and tablets to their rooms, keep screens out of the bedroom so it’s easier to monitor internet use.
You can also set up parental controls to help keep internet use on the right track. Help your children set up their pages as “private” and work together to only add people you know in real life. On many apps, you can also set controls to block private messages or limit usage. As children age, you should shift the decision-making to them, but starting out with parental controls can help set the stage for safe internet use and reduce cyberbullying.
School is not the only place children deal with bullies or toxic relationships. While the internet provides us access to family and many amazing people all around the world, it also can facilitate unhealthy or dangerous relationships. Cyberbullying, harassment, and other inappropriate interactions can take place online. Use the tips above to prevent online harassment and help your child make smart decisions with relationships online.