How to Protect Your Kids Online
August 17, 2023 by Chevron Federal Credit Union
Children are exposed to the online world from an early age. While the internet offers benefits, it also comes with potential risks. As parents, it's crucial to strike a balance between allowing our kids to explore the digital realm and ensuring their safety.
These essential strategies will help safeguard your kids online.
Talk early and often
One of the most effective ways to keep kids safe online is to start the conversation early. Tailor discussions to the age and maturity level of your children. Younger children may not fully understand complex online threats, but you can start with simple guidelines like not sharing personal information with strangers or using devices under adult supervision. As they grow older, introduce more advanced topics such as online privacy and recognizing scams.
Don’t forget to keep the lines of communication open. Create a safe space for your children to share their online experiences, both positive and negative. Encourage them to talk about any uncomfortable encounters or situations they come across online.
Create separate accounts
When your children are old enough to have their own digital devices or online accounts, consider creating separate accounts from yours. Many platforms and services offer age-appropriate accounts with restricted access to certain features. For example, you can create age-appropriate profiles on web browsers, streaming services and even entire devices.
This practice helps you maintain better control over their online activities and safeguard them from potentially harmful content. It also protects you from curious minds — like if your child accidentally deletes the tax files from your hard drive.
Set parental controls
Most devices and platforms today come equipped with built-in parental control options. These controls allow you to manage and restrict the content your children can access, set screen time limits and prevent them from making unauthorized purchases. Familiarize yourself with these features and tailor them to suit your child's age and maturity level.
Many platforms require a PIN number to exit a child’s profile. Make sure the PIN is something you’ll remember so you can easily switch from cartoons to reality shows.
Adjust privacy settings
Many social media platforms and online services offer privacy settings that allow users to control who can view their posts and interact with them.
For older kids, this is a great opportunity to foster communication and encourage independence. Sit down with your children and guide them through the process of adjusting these settings to their comfort level. Show them how to set their profiles to private, limit the visibility of their posts to friends only, and block or report users who engage in inappropriate behavior.
Be mindful of in-app purchases
In-app purchases can be a potential pitfall for young users. Many apps and games offer tempting virtual items that children may want to buy, often without fully grasping the real-world financial consequences. To avoid unexpected expenses, disable in-app purchases on your child's device or set up a password requirement for each purchase. Additionally, educate your kids about responsible spending and the importance of seeking permission before making any purchases online.
Connect with your kids online
While we all want our kids to have their freedom and privacy, especially as they get older, it is important to connect with your kids online. Friend them on social media accounts, video game platforms and shared streaming services — basically anywhere that has a chat or post feature.
While you won’t see private messages and some other activity, you will get a sense of where your kid hangs out online — and who interacts with them.