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How to Keep Your Kids Safe Online
Watching your kids when they go online can be a full-time job, especially if they’re attending school remotely and learning virtually. Keeping kids safe online is all about controlling the content they have access to and connecting with them. From installing parental controls to keeping a watchful eye on their activity, there’s a lot you can do to help your kids thrive online during these challenging times.
How to Talk to Your Kids About Online Safety
Carefully explore your kid’s online web-surfing habits and spend time talking about what to do when they find inappropriate content. Encourage your children to come to you with any questions.
What Can You Do to Keep Your Children Safe Online?
Sometimes, kids start wandering away from where they’re supposed to be. The internet is no different. Here are some great child-safe ideas to help protect your kids when they’re online:
Install parental control software
Talk to your kids so they know what they’re allowed to do online. Install family-friendly parental control software like Qustodio or OpenDNS FamilyShield to block unsafe or inappropriate content from your kid’s devices.
Learn about the risks to kids online
It’s key to educate yourself about online safety. The more you know about the digital world, the more you’re aware of what the risks are and how to avoid them.
Monitor your kids' online activity
Leverage the browser history details to and parental control reports to review where your kids are going online into social networks. Be sure they share emails and texts with you too.
Set time limits
Use your smartphone’s countdown timer to track online time. If you’ve installed parental controls on your kid’s device, you may be able to help keep your children safe by directly limiting their screen time. And check with your ISP to see if you’re able set time limits on their internet service from your Wi-Fi router.
Print out a list of rules
Take a look at these online rules and guidelines:
- Computers and other devices can only be used in the public areas of your home
- No social media until after homework is finished
- Never give out personal information online like your phone number, address or current location
- Never meet in person with anyone you “met” online
- Always tell a trusted adult, such as a parent or a teacher, if something you see online makes you uncomfortable
- Do not download anything without checking first with your parent or guardian
- Be open to talking about your online activity
- No devices in bedrooms or during mealtimes
- No screen time one hour before bed
How to Keep Kids Safe When Learning Remotely
If your child is going to school online, they may be in front of their laptop unsupervised. You’ll need to closely monitor your child’s online habits to ensure schoolwork gets done. That can be a real challenge if you’re also working from home.
Talk about the importance of privacy
Audio and video recordings of your child or home could be things you’re not comfortable being made publicly available. Consider the following before reaching out to your child’s teacher or administrator:
- Have a conversation with your child about what feels private to them and what they wouldn’t want out in the public
- Talk to them about what “publicly available” photos and content mean to their safety
- Make a plan so that your private information is secure and your child feels safe during their time online
Explain the dangers of cyberbullying
Here are a few tips to help you approach the topic with your kids:
- Ask about your school’s policies and expectations on cyberbullying
- Stay educated by exploring online resources like Stomp Out Bullying
- Talk to your child about online bullying and ask about experiences they may have had
- Reward them when they tell you about suspected cyberbullying
Discuss the permanence of online activity
Make sure your child understands they should never post or say anything inappropriate while learning remotely. Videos, posts and conversations can persist online for years. Work with them so they behave like they are in the classroom.
Resources for Online Safety
The world of internet safety can be daunting, but there’s lots of great resources available. The following can help you and your kids safely navigate the web.
Stay Safe Online
This National Cyber Security Alliance-sponsored website is a great place to review ways to respond to ID theft attempts, fraud and other cybercrimes.
The DHS’s Stop. Think. Connect.
Sponsored by the US Department of Homeland Security, Stop.Think.Connect. offers educational materials that teaches kids —from K-8 all the way into their undergraduate years — on ways to keep safe online and what to look out for as well.
NetSmartz online safety education program provides free digital resources to help kids become more aware of serious online risks to their personal safety — in terms they can understand.
Protect Your Identity and Your Finances
While you’re working on keeping your kids safe online, be sure and carve out a little time to review the safety of your personally identifiable information. Check in with your American Family Insurance agent to learn how you can benefit from internet fraud protection. You’ll find real peace of mind with coverage that helps insulate your finances — and your family.