The internet is a complicated place. It’s where kids can find adorable dog pictures and the latest news on their favorite band or movie star, but it’s also the host of adult content that isn’t safe for kids. And just like you are at risk of exposure to data breaches and identity theft, so are your kids!
Fortunately, you can take steps to keep the danger to a minimum — without being too strict.
#1 Keep Their Online Identities Safe
When you’re coming up with a plan to keep your kids safe online, it might feel like technology is against you. The key is to find ways it can work to your advantage, too. LastPass saves everyone in your family from the hassle of remembering passwords. You already must recall things like doctors’ appointments and half-days at school. Why add passwords to the list of details you might forget?
Moreover, LastPass helps you achieve the goal of keeping your kids’ identities safe online. It’s crucial for you to teach them good password behavior from the start, including the importance of not using the same passwords for multiple sites. Kids visit many websites that require them to create an account, and it’s essential that the login details are different for each one.
LastPass helps generate strong and unique passwords and usernames for each site that needs them, then remembers them for your kids.
#2 Let Them Access the Right Sites
The internet offers specific sites and content channels for kids. That’s why children aren’t likely to need to access all the same pages that adults do. With LastPass Families you can create shared folders of what you want other family members to access. Perhaps a folder of streaming media sites to share with everyone, including your kids, and one for household bills with your significant other. Everyone has access to what they need, and nothing they don’t.
Outside of LastPass, you can utilize site-specific parental controls that restrict access to some content. For example, Netflix lets you create a profile that’s only for kids or require a PIN to watch material categorized by particular maturity levels or titles. And Google has a SafeSearch feature that blocks most explicit content.
#3 Control What They Can Buy Online
LastPass can also be used as your digital wallet where you store your credit card information, addresses and more. Using LastPass, you can digitally share access to an approved debit card with a limit you’ve set. Then, kids can participate in online shopping without you worrying they might overspend and ask forgiveness later.
LastPass also permits giving debit card information to kids without providing them with physical copies of the card. That way, they’ll have the details they need to make purchases, and you won’t feel the stress of them potentially losing your debit card.
#4 Discuss Sensitive Information and How to Protect it
One of the qualities of the internet that’s both good and bad is that children can use it to meet new people who share their interests. However, they may not realize how risky it is to tell online strangers where they go to school, which neighborhood they live in and their names.
As your child sets up new accounts online, walk through the process with them so you know the information they’re being asked for and point out why it’s important. Your name, zip code, birthday – all this information is valuable and needs to be protected. Also, make sure they know which information requires extra care – credit cards, social security numbers, etc.
Instead of completely stopping kids from using messaging apps, social media sites and other tools for meeting people online, discuss why it’s important for them to be careful about what they say and to involve a trusted adult if they’re ever in an uncomfortable situation.
#5 Keep the Computer in a Visible Area
Kids might want to use the internet without you looking over their shoulders all the time, and that’s understandable. But it’s still smart to have the computer in a place that lets you easily supervise what’s happening. Think about having it in a highly trafficked part of the house, such as a family room.
Granted, because most kids — especially older ones — have smartphones and laptops that can access the internet, it’s impossible to completely control when they go online and which sites they visit. Educating your children – as discussed in tip 4 – helps them make smart decisions about the internet activities they choose, since you can’t oversee all of them.
#6 Set Limits for Browsing and Overall Online Use
It’s important that kids have a balance of online and offline time.
For younger kids, it’s reasonable to limit the amount of time they spend online. Share that decision with babysitters and other caregivers.
Again, older kids will have more freedom, especially if they have their own smartphone. That’s okay! If you instil good habits and safe behavior from a young age, they will be able to handle this freedom responsibly.
Awareness and Proactiveness Are Crucial
The internet provides kids with an exciting world of knowledge and opportunities to make new friends and learn new things. When you take steps to remain as aware as possible and — more importantly — proactively teach young people how to navigate the internet in ways that keep them safe, you’ll increase the likelihood of a lifetime of fun, educational online experiences.