If you’ve got kids, you’ll be very familiar with their natural curiosity. In today’s age, kids also grow up around computers and they certainly know their way around the internet. And while the internet can be a lot of fun for kids, and actually teach them one or two valuable lessons along the way, safety always has to come first. After all, who hasn’t heard the horror stories about the kid who found their mother’s credit card, and spent £20,000 investing in small businesses on a crowdfunding website?
Alright, alright, that one probably didn’t quite happen that way – though who knows, kids can get very creative when they’re bored. But even if it’s quite unlikely that your children will invest in the newest astrology app, them surfing the web is often not one of parents’ favourite activities for kids. After all, the internet can be full of traps for kids and distracted parents to fall into – but don’t worry, that’s why we’ve compiled a guide to digital safety for kids.
Make sure to keep your credit card details safe. Your children shouldn’t have access to them – if they ask you why, explain them the dangers of credit card details getting into the wrong hands. Make it clear to them that it’s not that you don’t trust them (though you might not if they’ve been eyeing the newest PlayStation for a while now), but that it’s more of a general safety precaution.
If your kids want to purchase something online, make sure to not only buy it for them, but tell them a bit about the process too, and everything they should check to see if the site is providing a secure connection for financial transaction. This also shows your kids that you’re taking this seriously, and probably would notice if they went on a crazy shopping spree online.
Talking about credit cards, explain to your children how they work – that they don’t provide you with free money, but that you always have to pay your bill at the end of every month. They might be deeply disappointed to learn that credit cards don’t simply give you things for free, but after all, some dreams simply have to be disturbed.
To keep your kid from buying expensive apps for iPhone and tablets and falling for costly in-app purchases, make sure to never share your password with your kids, and change the settings so that every purchase will require a password immediately. It can also be helpful to use a prepaid card for such services, as these cards are limited to the funds pre-funded to them, limiting any risk to the funds that are available on the card. We’ve all heard about the kid who went crazy buying virtual toys and animals in an IPhone game, and we’d prefer it if that wasn’t ours.
Tell your kids to never post any personal information online – your address and number do not belong on the internet under any circumstances, since they can never be sure who they are talking online. Safety comes first on the internet, and telling someone they don’t know intimate details online is almost like talking to a complete stranger on the street – a no-go.
The same goes for pictures or videos – tell your kids to be very careful who they share things with, since you don’t want random people to be able to download their picture. Of course this is tricky in the age of social media, but it’s a good approach to take with very young children who don’t quite understand the internet yet.
And last but not least, another important thing to teach kids online is that their passwords are just like house keys, opening doors to their online lives – and since they wouldn’t give their keys to random strangers on the internet, they should look after their passwords in the same way. Also start telling them all about the power of a safe password – while they might find it easier to remember their cat’s name, it’s worth creating a number-letter combination that is slightly more elaborate.