The internet is a great resource for children who use it for schoolwork, entertainment and even socializing. However, the internet can also be a dangerous place with risks such as cyberbullying, easy access to pornographic content, online scams, phishing, catfishing, and privacy issues. As a parent, it is important to take steps to keep your child safe online. In this article, we discuss some tips on how to do that.
How are children targeted in online spaces?
Children are targeted on the internet in various ways such as:
- Phishing emails
- Clicking on suspicious links on social media and games
- Downloading unverified applications (apps)
- Chatting with strangers
Here are some tips for keeping children safe online:
Eight tips to keep children safe online
- Educate children about online safety: Teach children how to avoid cyberbullying, online predators, and scams. Explain how to use privacy settings and keeping personal information safe online, as well as how to recognize phishing attempts and be cautious of online scams. You should also try assisting children in understanding the risks of sharing too much personal information online.
Set parental controls: Use parental controls to restrict access to inappropriate websites or content. This can include setting up filters on search engines, blocking specific websites, and limiting screen time.
The links below have step-by-step information on how to put up parental controls on different platforms:
- Monitor child’s online activity: Keep an eye on what children are doing online. Check their social media profiles and messages and be aware of the applications (apps) and games they are using. You can use parental control apps such as the Google Family Link application to track their online activity.
- Encourage open communication: Create an environment where children feel comfortable talking to you about their online experiences. Encourage them to come to you if they encounter anything that makes them uncomfortable or scared. Additionally, guide them on some useful sites they can access for various needs
- Lead by example: Set a good example for children by practicing safe online behavior yourself. Avoid oversharing personal information online and use strong passwords and two-factor authentication/verification (a security method for managing identities and access that needs two ways to prove you are who you are before you can use the online platform). Read more about how to set up two-factor authentication on Facebook on this link: https://www.facebook.com/help/148233965247823
- Set clear rules and boundaries: Establish clear rules for internet usage, such as the amount of time spent online, appropriate websites and apps, and the types of content they can access. Monitor their online activities and enforce these rules consistently.
- Stay informed: Keep yourself updated about popular social media platforms, apps, and online trends which can especially have harmful effects on children. This will help you understand the platforms your child is using and allow you to have informed conversations about their online experiences.
- Use search engines made for kids: Encourage children to use child-friendly search engines such as Google Kids Space that filter out adult content and other harmful material they should not see. Other child-friendly search engines that you can use include:
- Kiddle (www.kiddle.co): Kiddle is a search engine specifically designed for children. It uses Google's safe search technology to filter out explicit content and displays search results in a kid-friendly manner. The search results include a mix of safe websites, images, and videos.
- KidzSearch (www.kidzsearch.com): KidzSearch is a search engine designed for kids. It provides filtered search results from various trusted sources and includes images, videos, and educational games. KidzSearch also offers a safe wiki platform called KidzTube, where children can find age-appropriate content.
- Safe Search Kids (www.safesearchkids.com): Safe Search Kids is a search engine that uses Google's SafeSearch technology to filter out explicit content. It provides a safe environment for children to search the web and offers image and video search options as well.
- KidRex (www.kidrex.org): KidRex is another child-friendly search engine that filters out inappropriate content. It utilizes Google's SafeSearch technology to ensure safe browsing for kids. The search results are presented in a colorful and engaging format.
- Swiggle (www.swiggle.org.uk): Swiggle is a child-friendly search engine developed by the Online Safety experts at South West Grid for Learning (SWGfL). It delivers safe search results and incorporates a unique 'WebRover' feature that allows children to explore websites with minimal risk.
- YouTube Kids (https://www.youtubekids.com): YouTube Kids is as video app and website for children developed by YouTube. The app provides a version of the service oriented solely towards children, with curated selections of content, parental control features, and filtering of videos deemed inappropriate for viewing by children under the age of 13.
Practical tips for children if they face any suspicious online activities:
- Tell a trusted adult immediately suspicious or uncomfortable online behavior or If someone online asks for your personal information like full name, address, phone number, or school details.
- Immediately tell a trusted adult or appropriate people who can help you decide what to do if you see or hear images, videos, or messages that make you as a child uncomfortable- such can be a serious matter.
- Tell a trusted adult if you are being targeted by online bullies, or experiencing harassment, threats, or insults through messages, comments, or social media posts. They can provide guidance and take appropriate actions to address the issue.
- If someone online attempts to establish an emotional or intimate connection with you, often with the intention of exploiting or manipulating you, it's essential to report it. Examples include an adult attempting to gain your trust, asking for private conversations, asking you to send them your photos or them sending you their especially nudes, makes inappropriate advances or trying to meet you in person.
- Be cautious when clicking on links or downloading attachments and apps, as they could contain viruses or other harmful content.
Where to report online abuse
- Call 116/ / 0732 263 554.
- WhatsApp: +254 722 116 116.
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Terres Des Hommes (TdH) in DadaabToll-free line: 0800720648
View children’s services offered by TDH in IFO 2 HERE.