Internet Safety: How Your Children Behave Online

Internet Safety: How Your Children Behave Online?
A large part of online safety falls on you own head. How you behave and how you encourage your child to behave has a direct impact on how safe you and they can be. The key problem with the internet is that of anonymity. Anonymity of course means that there are no moral guidelines except our own when we interact online. This anonymity often leads individuals to behave in ways that they would not behave when offline. It also, of course, means that people can easily hide their identity for nefarious purposes including online grooming, crime and simply to vent their frustrations. With this in mind teaching your children appropriate online behaviour is essential to ensuring their safety and also preventing them from becoming victim or villain in online interactions.
Firstly you need to teach your children discretion when using internet forums, message boards and other online communications or public domains. They need to know that they should not share information or images that they would not want everyone being able to see. Explain that information added online is public information and that everyone and anyone has access to it. Encourage your children to think carefully before making any posts online to ensure they do not unthinkingly share information.
Secondly you need to teach your children to be anonymous themselves. Whilst, as we have cautioned, anonymity can encourage negative behavior it also provides safety. This of course needs to include not sharing personal information online but also should extend to creating a pseudonym online to further protect your identity as it is very easy to track people or put together an idea of where they are from and live. This should extend to user names and other login information where a pseudonym makes it less likely for you to be tracked using your login details and makes the risks of fraud and identity theft much lessened.
Thirdly you need your children to be distant when dealing with individuals who they meet online. If they want to meet in person meet publically and accompanied so that you can ensure their safety. Giving away personal details online, even to someone you have learnt to consider a friend, is still a risky endeavour so exercising caution.
Fourthly we would highly recommend you encourage honesty and being nice online. This applies to all internet users but remaining polite, friendly and honest will discourage ill feelings towards yourself and prevent you becoming the target of crime or bullying. When it comes to honesty you may be tempted to pretend to be someone you are not – either through fantasy or just a desire to project an image of yourself. In an online game or fantasy realm this is acceptable but you need to be aware that other users may be doing the same. So if you behave this way make sure you are aware other people may be doing the same. Encouraging your children to be friendly online prevents them from being the victim of online bullying but also should discourage them from becoming a bully themselves. Teach your children to dislocate themselves from the online world and that if they encounter rudeness or cyber bullying to leave the computer, not react and to report them to the appropriate administrators or moderators of the site.
Finally teach your children to be clean in all their internet activity. This includes not downloading material from users they don’t know, not opening messages that they do not know the recipient of and avoiding sites that may contain inappropriate and harmful content. Teaching your child the perils of these sites and downloading unsolicited content is essential to their safety and should be an integral part of their behaviour.
This is a Guest Post:
Jane writes about internet safety for children and their parents in order to help raise awareness about the potential dangers of the digital world. For more information on this topic, please visit the Vodafone Parents Guide
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