Dear Editor,Teaching your children about risks of online activity can be another important step to keep their experience safe, fun, and secure. However, keeping kids safe in the Internet playground can be challenging. After all, there are no teachers to watch over them and you certainly can’t monitor them every minute. So, how do you keep kids safe on internet? Let’s look at the ways you can safeguard against the everyday dangers your kids could face.As soon as your child starts accessing the internet, talk to them about what they are reading, watching and who they are communicating with online – and keep the conversation going as they grow older. Ask your child what sites they visit or apps they use, write a list, and look at them together. Talk to your child about what you think is appropriate, and remind them that this may be different for other parents and their children. Listen to your child and reach an agreement about what is right for your family. Remember the time will come when they will access the internet outside the safety of home and you want them to be prepared for that. It’s vital to teach them about their online reputation, too, and how they must be careful about how they behave, interact with people and represent themselves in such a public forum.Make them learn not to talk to strangers. Whether playing online games with friends or joining in conversations on social media, children come into contact with strangers every day. Always monitor your child’s time online, particularly younger children. Keep the computer in a central spot in the home where it’s easy to keep an eye on what your child is doing and viewing online. For mobile devices, you can set them to forget Wi-Fi pass-codes so your children can not go online without you knowing. You can also try to make an agreement that there are no tablets, laptops or gaming in bedrooms.For younger children, you might also consider checking browser histories after your child has been online to see what sites they are visiting. This approach obviously gets harder as children grow older and work out how to clear histories – which is more reason to open the lines of communication about internet use at an early age. Innocent searches online can lead to not-so-innocent results, so it’s wise to know how to use the parental controls/search restrictions offered by web browsers, internet service provider and devices. For example, the Safe Search Filters feature on Google will block sites with explicit sexual material. To turn it on, go to Settings/SafeSearch Filters.As adults, we know that some people online aren’t who they say they are, but children and young people can be alarming naïve about who they are chatting with if they are not taught to be cyber wise from an early age. Make sure you become friends and contacts within your child’s social media circles and ensure you monitor posts. Your children may resist but tell them that it is one of the conditions to allow them access.If your child is a regular user of social networks, they must be aware of the risk of personal information or images being made public once they post it. While they won’t fully understand the consequences of revealing personal information online, you should teach them to be cautious and thoughtful about what they post and share. Encourage your children to ask themselves before posting anything if the information (i.e. name, phone number, home address, email, name of school) or photo is something they would give a stranger. If the answer is no, don’t post it. Make them smart learners and not easy prey.Radhika K Sharma,Greater Kailash.
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