Parents in our modern times have many issues to think about that never crossed our own parents’ minds when we were being raised. With new inventions and technology come new safety concerns. It can be a challenge to know what to say to your children when you don’t have childhood memories of a talk with your own parents to draw on. Here are some ideas on how to discuss internet safety with your younger child.
Even very young children are generally extremely knowledgeable about the internet nowadays. If you want to be respected by your child when you talk about internet safety, you will need to stay up to date on the latest online trends and details.
If you appear unsure or seem to be making accusations that are untrue, your child will stop listening to what you really have to say. Do your research, and come to the conversation from a place of knowledge.
Stick to the Subject
Try not to randomly get caught up in other subjects when approaching your child. Keep your message simple, and stick to it. Help your child stay focused on your main message by not dwelling on it too long.
Teach Respect Rather Than Fear
It is easy to get caught up in fear, and to not want your child to even use the internet at all. Instead of going to this extreme, though, lay out some rules that can work for everyone. Let your child know that while he (or she) is still young, you are responsible to keep him safe, and that your life experience allows you to do this.
Tell him that when he uses the internet, you will always be in the room. Let him know that you will always have full access to any of his accounts and online activities. Teach him to ask your permission to use new websites before he accesses them.
Give your child a set of basic rules to follow, such as never putting his personal information online, never participating in online bullying, never chatting with strangers, and always letting you know if someone tries to privately contact him or makes an inappropriate comment.
Instead of making your child fearful of all the “what ifs”, teach him the satisfaction of using the internet responsibly.
Although you don’t want to put unnecessary fear into your child’s life, you do want to be honest about the risks. Use age-appropriate language to let your child know some of the things that can go wrong on the internet. Let your child know that unfortunately, there are some people with bad motives, and that the internet is a place where they can easily lie about themselves and fool even those who are aware and cautious.
Internet safety is an area that almost every parent in this lifetime will need to discuss with their young ones. Keep the conversation positive, and it will not fall on deaf ears. Talk with your child about these issues while still young, and it will lay a firm foundation for many future years of safe internet use.