Digital technologies such as the internet and social media provide adults and children with a world of possibility at the touch of a fingertip. However, there are certain risks people take when using the internet.
When online, people must wade through things like harmful content and cyberbullying. This is because, for every good thing about the internet, there is someone else willing to put others at risk. While it may seem easier to ban internet use, this would be detrimental. Instead, parents and children must learn how to safely and responsibly engage with and talk about the internet.
Internet safety isn’t just about making sure that kids are safe from cyberbullies and potential predators. Instead, it’s about teaching kids everything from privacy concerns to feeling good about their online presence. In fact, there are really four distinct reasons why internet safety should be a priority in every family.
1. The prevalence of digital technologies
Technology is quite literally everywhere. This means that there are countless opportunities during the course of a day where a child could come across something upsetting, or post something questionable themselves. There are no safe spaces with technology. It can follow you into the home and even into private rooms like the bedroom. There is no escaping it, so kids really need to know how to use it properly and yet also respectfully.
2. Privacy concerns
Internet safety isn’t only about keeping kids safe from cyberbullies. It’s also about protecting kids from hackers. Kids can tend to use silly and therefore easy to guess passwords, making it easy for potential hackers to infiltrate their accounts and access personal information. By teaching internet safety, kids learn how to be more secure on the internet. Which goes a long way towards preventing cyber crimes.
3. The effects of cyberbullying
The effects of cyberbullying are wide-ranging. Kids can feel under attack with no safe place to turn. Not only does “cyberbullying” have a detrimental effect on mental health, but it can also affect physical health. By starting to teach kids healthy online habits early, parents can foster an environment where kids speak up if something is wrong. Helping to negate the negative effects of prolonged cyberbullying.
4. Teaching habits for life
How to interact and use the internet is a learned habit. When kids are taught how to use the internet in safe and respectful ways, they ultimately get the best out of technology. As kids have been taught from a young age, they’ll then keep these good habits well into adulthood. Laying the groundwork for a future where bullying and predatory behavior online is a thing of the past.
How parents can help kids deal with safety issues on the internet
Education is the key way that parents can help kids and in fact, navigate the online world. As kids aren’t able to sometimes properly grasp a situation, parents should inform them of the difference between a joke and bullying. This way, if kids are being bullied, red flags will go up right away.
Parents can educate their kids as much as possible when it comes to being safe online, however, another key component towards achieving safety is open lines of communication. Sometimes what kids come across online, they can’t confront themselves. This is where the help of a parent is paramount. However, if kids don’t feel like they can trust their parents’ reactions, they’ll suffer in silence. When kids feel that they are able to talk with their parents, instances of cyberbullying and the like can be confronted.
Being safe on the internet
The internet provides so many positives for people around the world. However, the worldwide web also makes it easy for strangers to disguise themselves as friends. For every great article or means of communication on the internet, cyberbullies might be a few short clicks away. With the prevalence of digital technology, kids need to learn how to use the internet safely.
Learning how to use the internet safely starts at home. In fact, parents play a huge role in internet safety. Not only can parents teach kids how to be respectful online, they can also provide assistance if something should go wrong online. Highlighting why internet safety needs to be a priority in homes across the country.
Author bio: Luke Fitzpatrick has been published in Forbes, Yahoo! News and Influencive. He is also a guest lecturer at the University of Sydney, lecturing in Cross-Cultural Management and the Pre-MBA Program. You can connect with him on LinkedIn.