The internet can be a wonderful source of fun and educational activities for children. From online learning games to entertaining and fun videos, parents want their children to enjoy these activities, but it should be safe. As parents, we also understand the internet can be a place that could lead to harm if your children are not properly monitored.
According to a report compiled by the Children’s Commissioner of England, parents are worried about internet safety now more than ever. Prior to the meteoric rise and widespread adoption of the internet, parents were not overly concerned with digital threats children now face.
Ever since the internet has become ubiquitous, kids of all ages can get online with ease. Previously, only adults and older kids were able to access the internet. However, with the advent of tablets and other touchscreen devices, many toddlers and young kids are becoming familiar with the internet.
This use of technology is becoming increasingly common among preschoolers aged 4 to 5. Here are three tips for keeping your preschooler safe on the internet:
Staying close by while children in your care are online can help you prevent unsafe situations. Parents and caregivers can intervene in the moment their child is confronted with something potentially harmful. While staying close may be the easiest way to ensure internet safety for young kids, it is not always practical or possible. There will be times when you cannot be right there at the exact moment something occurs.
Therefore, parents should take advantage of other options such as child-safe sites like YouTube Kids and ABC Kids, for example. These sites are continuously monitored and kept safe for young children.
If you have a tablet or phone that your child uses, you can set up a folder or screen with all the apps your child is allowed to use. By making sure child-safe apps are easy to find and access, you can ensure your children are only using apps that are safe. This not only increases online safety, but also gives younger children a chance to feel more independent.
Make Use of Reviews and Parental Controls
If you are unsure about a site or app your child wants to try, look for online reviews written by other parents, caregivers, and educational professionals. Sites like Family Education and Common Sense Media provide a wealth of information on child-friendly websites.
Other tools that help to ensure online safety of preschoolers are parental controls. Using parental controls on computers and smart devices enables parents and caregivers to control the websites children can access, restrict how long they spend in a specific app, and prevent inappropriate pop-ups.
Parental controls can be especially helpful if your children have their own personal smartphones or tablets. Taking advantage of these options will help your children make their own decisions while not risking their safety.
Keep the Lines of Communication with Your Child Open
When it comes to using the internet safely, especially when children are younger, the best thing parents can do is to engage them in conversation. Even with parental controls and safety settings engaged, strangers can still attempt to contact children online.
Privacy is a huge concern for anyone who uses the internet. It’s important that your children understand why sensitive information should be protected. Give them the tools necessary to make smart decisions while online.
Advise your child to never give out personal information, such as their name, age, number, or information about their home or the town they live in. Encourage your child to always come directly to you or another trusted adult if they have questions or come across anything that makes them uncomfortable.
Keep Your Children Safe in the Digital Age
Years ago, internet safety was not on parents’ radar. As technology evolves, communication is critical for maintaining children’s safety while online. Living in the digital age means people of all ages—even preschoolers—have unprecedented access to the internet. For parents, this means being vigilant while allowing their children to explore what can be a powerful learning tool.
Parenting is hard, and so is navigating the online world safely. However, you can keep your children safe while still encouraging them to enjoy their online adventures. Don’t let safety concerns prevent your kids from enjoying all the safe and child-friendly content available online. Of course, it is important to be cautious. Fortunately, by taking advantage of the multiple options and having the lines of communication with your children open, you can help keep their online experience safe and enjoyable.