The internet can be a wild and scary digital neighbourhood for your children.
Kids in Singapore are already accessing social media platforms before they begin primary education. If we fail to educate our children of the dangers of the internet from a young age, they may be susceptible to at least one cyber-risk, from cyberbullying to video game addiction, to offline meetings, and to online sexual behavior. Fortunately, for every parent out there, you have the power to protect your children from a digital sphere we cannot comprehend!
Here are 5 tips on how you can keep your children safe!
1. Educate yourself
Before discussing Internet safety with your children, it is important to be familiar with the various social networking sites they are exposed to.
All social networking sites have different risks. Whenever your child authorizes an application through Facebook, it gives information to third parties about him or her. Instagram’s location tagging allows users to share their location with their image.
The following are social networking sites your children are commonly exposed to:
1. Social networks
These are sites that allow individuals to set up a profile and connect with friends or strangers, depending on their privacy settings.
This is a social media application that users commonly access with the mobile phone, to share photos, videos from their lives. Users can add captions, edit filters, tweak settings, engage with others through personal messages.
On Facebook, not only can users share photos or videos, but they can also be part of groups and pages, post status updates, check in their locations, share extensive videos, multiple links, and the list goes on. Essentially, Facebook is more catered towards networking with people.
Snapchat has been constantly updated to suit its users’ wants and needs.
The main concept of Snapchat is that any picture or video or message you send – by default – is made available to the receiver for only a short time before it becomes inaccessible.
Twitter is an online social networking site that allows users to ‘tweet’ messages with a limit of 280 characters. Tweeting is posting short messages for anyone who follows you on Twitter, with the hope that your messages are useful and interesting to someone in your audience.
2. Blogging sites
These are sites for individual or group users to record their opinion, information on a regular basis.
The type of content may differ depending on the purpose of the individual or group, but both Blogger and WordPress are similar in which content is presented in reverse chronological order (newer content appear first).
Tumblr can be considered to be a microblogging platform, similar to Twitter rather than WordPress or Blogger. Unlike WordPress and Blogger, Tumblr focuses more on imagery than it does on words.
3. Media sharing
These are sites for individuals to post various media like videos and pictures and allows other users to comment.
This is a video-sharing platform where there is a myriad of content, ranging from documentaries to videos of ants. Although Youtube has added parental controls to their platform, these controls are not foolproof.
Unlike Facebook and Instagram, Flickr is mainly a photo-hosting and video-sharing site built for professional photographers and photography enthusiasts to display their work.
4. Instant messaging
Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger, WeChat, Telegram are instant messaging systems to individuals or groups at one go over the Internet. Users can send text, videos, audio messages and pictures.
2. Inform your children about the risks
The internet poses potential risks for your children with them exposed to a network of engaging and harmful content from a young age. With a rise in children’s consumption of the Internet, it is vital to educate your children on the risks of the Internet.
Here are some of the risks:
Cyberbullying takes place through messaging, social media platforms, online games, or forums in which people are able to view and participate in. Cyberbullying uses technology to harass, threaten, embarrass or target another person.
These are tips to recognise and report a cyberbullying case.
Phishing is an attempt to retrieve personal information from a target by disguising oneself as a legitimate entity. These attempts can take in the form of emails, calls, or messages.
Here are some tips on how to spot a phishing attempt.
Sharing personal information online
It may be entertaining and validating to share your lives on social media platforms, but sharing your location exposes your whereabouts, with impressive accuracy, which usually appears on your posts in real-time.
Sharing about unnecessary information on sites like your mobile number or house address can give potential hackers the information required for identity theft.
These are signs of sharing too much of your personal information online.
3. Be supportive
Let’s face it, an age limit on any site will not prevent your children from registering an account. Instead of banning social media completely, have a talk with them about what they surf online.
If your child has done something online that is inappropriate, have a discussion with him or her about why it is inappropriate. In any relationship, communication is key. By building a culture of open communication at home, your children will most likely confide in you if they encounter any problems online in the future.
4. Set an example
You as a parent are the model to your children’s habits. If you have set rules for them to stop using the Internet at bedtime, do the same too. Keeping by the rules you have set for your children will set a positive example for them.
5. Install our parental control app, plano
For the busy parent, keeping an eye on your child’s online behaviour 24/7 is impossible. Take the extra mile of ensuring your child’s safety by using our parental control app, plano!
Wherever you are, you can have a peace of mind knowing your kids are safe online. The plano app provides features like ‘Push Alerts’ in which you can receive alerts when it’s time to stop your children’s device use.