Several years ago I didn’t think the internet would be much of a problem for our children. They loved playing games on the Wii, they loved Minecraft and Terraria and they loved playing outside. They were content playing dice and board games for family night and spending time with Mom and Dad. Fast forward a couple years and life has changed. At least a little.
Our older three children still love playing Minecraft and Terraria, but they also enjoy watching YouTube videos to help them improve and learn new tactics. Punkin, now 5 years old, is in love with Shopkins and My Little Pony and loves watching video reviews about them. Strange to me, but she seriously loves them. She also loves watching Netflix.
While we don’t let them sit on their devices all day and we do encourage them to go outside and play, they are one the internet more than they were just a few years ago. In that time, we have learned a few things about internet safety and how to keep them safe.
5 Ways to Keep Kids Safe on the Internet
- Keep a lock on their device. Our children may have their own tablets, but each of them has a lock. It is a pin that only my husband and I know, so they can not get on their devices at all hours of the day/night. Not having these in place opens up a world of possibilities. While this can be tricky when they have their own phones, it can still be done so that internet browsing isn’t done in the middle of the night. Even if they bought the device with their money, they are still living in your home and still need boundaries. If your child has their own phone, make a house rule that all phones are turned off and charged in your room, next to your bed. That way they cannot come in and get them during the night.
- Know their passwords. My children do not have any sort of social media. Why? Because I don’t think its necessary for them to be taking pictures of random things or selfies and sharing them at 5, 6, 8 and 11 years old. However, I know there will come a day when they ask for a social media profile. At that time another rule will be set in place – we will know your password. AT. ALL. TIMES. If they change your password for any reason, we must be notified. This is for their safety. Not because I am a nosey, prying parent. I am a loving, caring parent who doesn’t want my children to fall in to temptation, because they don’t yet know how to handle their feelings and emotions.
- Scroll through their history often. Even if you trust your child completely, it is important that you know where your children have been on the internet, whether it be on YouTube, Netflix or just browsing. Knowing what they search and look for is eye-opening. It also helps you know what to discuss with them and what to restrict.
- Restrict Viewing on their device. Speaking of restrictions…it important to restrict your children’s devices. Since our children enjoy watching YouTube videos, we wanted them to have that access, but with restraint. However, YouTube does not have filtering options, so we installed YouTube Kids on their devices. This has been a great alternative and allows them to watch some of the YouTubers they like, while filtering out people we do not allow them to watch. Another option, which I highly recommend is to get a universal filtering device.
- Put house-wide filters in place. The internet is a vast universe all its own. It grows daily, so there is no way anyone can keep up with all the pages being added at an astronomical rate. However, you can put filters in place that will help monitor and keep your children safe. My Torch allows you to place filters on specific devices (i.e. the children), but not adults. We did find that restricting YouTube worked, but it can hinder their ability to view Kids YouTube, so we just uninstalled YouTube on their devices and it works great. I also like that we can restrict by either subject or website name/address.
Some of these may make your children mad. Good! I hope they get mad. I hope they also grow to know and understand it is all because you love and care about them, not because you are mean. They will eventually encounter the internet and you want to establish a firm foundation of regulations that keep them away from the dangers of the internet, while enjoying the benefits.
How do you keep your kids safe on the internet?