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Online safety for kids , a parent’s guide

Published 1 month ago  | Mark Johnson 

In the age of connectivity, it is important that our children learn how to use electronic devices and the internet from an early age, both for learning purposes and to prepare them for adult life. Because of this, they have never been more exposed to the potential dangers of the online world - so can we as parents teach them about the dangers of life online like we do day to day? 

The kids are online - a parents guide 

Making children understand the dangers of every day life is hard enough - so how can parents best do it for the online world? The concepts of privacy, identity and data are extremely complicated, so simplifying them as much as possible is important. 

  • Educate yourself first and your kids second. If you don’t know what you’re talking about when it comes to data privacy and security, make sure you do before you try and explain it to your kids. As with anything you try and teach them, they will probably have a million questions you weren’t expecting, so try and read up and make sure you are well placed to answer questions about personal identity, scams, data privacy, the need for a secure device and anything else you think might come up. 

  • Make privacy matter to them. Explain that they have information personal to them, like their favourite toys or games, which is valuable. That information is important because they are the only person who has it - so they have to keep it for themselves. Explain the importance of heavily privatised social media (if they insist on having accounts) and how to watch out for phishing scams.

  • Help them understand social media. As children who use smart devices get younger and younger, their desire to participate in the most common online experiences does to. But ask the question, even if they want one, does your 7 year old need an Instgram account? These things can be saved for later in their lives and you can limit them, with parental restrictions on apps accessed through their phone’s settings. If they really insist upon having an account and you feel you can’t stop it, you can at least limit potential harm through many social media apps’ settings. Turning off commenting on posts, hiding stories from public view and limiting their access to violent or inappropriate content is all possible. 

  • Make passwords with them. Come up with strong, memorable passwords as a family and share them out. Make them alphanumeric and use it as an opportunity to teach your younger children about symbols, numbers and the alphabet. 

  • Child safety online isn’t just inappropriate content. Although the dangers of exposure to content that isn’t for children are real, as are those of cyberbullying, the reality of online life for kids is far more broad. Make sure that your kids comprehend the need to avoid situations in which they could be exposed to things that they are too young to see, but also recognise the need for them to use the internet to explore the world and learn more about it. 

  • Teach them about scams. Many online scams are aimed specifically at kids - these can put your youngsters’ data at risk when they’re online, and in turn put your family’s information at risk of hacking. Most commonly, children are targeted with phishing, malware and online gaming hacks. Explain the nature of these to them and show them how to recognise suspicious URLs, phishing communications and the latest ways online gamers are being targeted. 

  • Be the data privacy example. Your kids will never take their privacy online seriously if they don’t see you doing it too - show them the steps you take online to make sure than your private info stays private and your data secure, and make them understand why you take them. If you minimise risk to your data by heavily privatising social media accounts, or by tightening permissions you give to apps on your phone, tell your children the reasoning behind these decisions. They may understand more easily than you would think. 

  • Get them a VPN. If you really want your children’s data to be safe online, and to not have to worry about them being hacked whilst using public wifi at the mall with their friends, the simple solution is to get them a VPN for any smart devices or computers they use. You can protect your whole family with a single subscription by using it on multiple devices - meaning your children’s data is properly encrypted and you no longer need to worry about them falling into one of the many traps of the online world. 

Download BlufVPN for your kids today and make sure that their browsing experience is safe, secure and private. Keep your family’s data where it belongs - in your possession.