(StatePoint) Children are spending more time online due to social distancing measures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. And while the internet can be an amazing gateway to knowledge and a tool to connect with family and friends, if parents and caregivers don’t follow certain precautions, it can also pose safety hazards.
Indeed, the United Nations has warned that the increased unstructured time online has put millions of children at greater risk of both cyberbullying and of being exposed to harmful content. Experts note that in the same way financial scammers have been working in overdrive to exploit the current crisis, the internet has also seen a surge of online predators targeting children.
Fortunately, there are effective actions parents can take to help keep kids safe online so that they can continue to reap the educational and social benefits of online use.
Have a Dialogue: While you may be working remotely or otherwise occupied, if possible, try to spend time in the same room as your kids during the day so you can keep tabs on them. An open dialogue can go a long way toward establishing mutual trust between generations. Parents should have a respectful discussion with children about what kinds of activities they are engaging in online and who they are communicating with. This discussion should include what constitutes inappropriate content. Let kids know they can come to you if they are being sent images or messages that fall into this category.
Steer Children to Quality Content: From free educational gaming apps to the online educational resources offered by museums and your local library, actively encourage your kids to explore the wealth of positive content designed for students and young people.
Update Devices: Be sure to keep your family’s devices safeguarded from hackers and malware by installing the latest updates.
Use New Tools: New tools can help parents effectively keep screen time in check. For example, by using OurPact, a screen time management solution, parents can limit app access automatically for recurring activities like school or bedtime, and can block or grant internet access on a child’s device any time. With the app, parents can even view screenshots of kids’ digital activity on Apple devices (this feature will be available on Android soon.)
“These abilities allow families to create and maintain a well-balanced schedule, while also offering parents a valuable tool for protecting their kids from unsafe content and people,” says Michele Havner, director of marketing for Eturi Corp., makers of OurPact.
To learn more or download, visit OurPact.com.
While the current crisis has created new online hazards that families should be aware of, parents can be proactive about keepings kids safe.