All parents strive to keep their children safe in every environment, whether they’re walking to school, exploring new neighborhoods, or learning how to excel in a new skill. Unfortunately, the online world remains one of the most complicated to successfully navigate as a parent.
The online world is home to a host of dangers, and children can be exposed anywhere. Around 70% of kids encounter violent or inappropriate content when simply doing homework research. While, in today’s digital world, it’s difficult for adults to protect their children from the threats of the digital world at all times, there are a few steps all parents should be taking.
1. Discuss Online Activity Openly
First, perhaps the most important step in setting positive foundations for online safety is having meaningful conversations with your children. The reality is most children aren’t fully aware of the dangers present online, and how they might encounter them. When a child faces an issue in the online world, they might not know how to deal with it.
For instance, around 59% of US teens currently say they’ve been bullied or harassed online, but only 10% of these victims tell a parent about their abuse online. Giving children insights into what they can do if they face a problem on the web can help them build a healthier relationship with the web.
During the initial stages when your children are still learning how to respond to possible online threats, a tool like FamilyKeeper, designed by the security experts of ReasonLabs, can use artificial intelligence to inform you even when your kids aren’t reporting problems. The solution can silently track your child’s online activities each day, alerting you when issues arise, like exposure to inappropriate content, or harassment. This can help parents to gently nudge their children into talking about issues, by allowing them to ask guided questions like, “Did you see anything that made you uncomfortable on the internet today?”
2. Prioritize Visibility
Perhaps the easiest way to ensure visibility into your child’s browsing habits is to keep devices and computers within view. However, in today’s increasingly connected world, it’s becoming extremely difficult to manually monitor your child’s time online at all times. Kids can now connect to the web from a range of screens and devices, making it harder for parents to keep track of their digital journeys. In this environment, you may need help to ensure visibility.
Apps like the FamilyKeeper service can assist with visibility, by giving you an AI helper to track your children’s movements when you can’t. This intelligent tool alerts parents to different kinds of harmful situations, like potential issues of cyber bullying, or even exposure to problematic material.
The AI system monitors exactly where your children are going and what they’re doing, so you don’t have to worry when your kids are out of sight with their devices. Not only does this give your children a sense of freedom to browse and research without their parents hanging over their shoulders, but it means you don’t have to deal with the pressure of constantly watching your child whenever they’re online.
FamilyKeeper can even draw attention to issues you might otherwise miss – such as when your child downloads several weight loss apps in one day or starts spending excess time on social media websites late at night when they should be sleeping.
3. Build your Toolkit for Immediate and Long-term Threats
Most parents focus their strategy for ensuring online safety on dealing with immediate threats. For instance, adding Safe Search filters to Google blocks sites with explicit material. Requiring your children to only use social media when you’re in the room can help to protect against the risk of predators. However, there’s often a wider variety of immediate and long-term threats for parents to be aware of than they realize.
An effective toolkit for protecting your children needs to start with addressing immediate threats other safety strategies might miss. For instance, 50% of 11-13-year-olds have seen illicit content online, and it’s possible for some inappropriate content to bypass typical filters. The right system, like FamilyKeeper, will immediately notify you when a piece of inappropriate content is accessed.
At the same time, these tools also need to address potential long-term threats too. Family Keeper looks beyond the initial issues children might face when browsing online to examine potentially problematic habits too. For instance, the AI can inform parents when it notices patterns of dangerous activities on social networks, or extensive use of the internet on a daily basis. Around 46% of children today already say they may be addicted to their smartphone.
Having a system in place to examine your child’s exposure to long-term threats, like cyber bullying, screen addiction and changing behaviors on apps is just as important as being able to determine when your child arrives on a dangerous website.
Protecting your Family is as Simple as 1, 2, 3
The number of threats facing today’s children online is greater than ever. It’s not just exposure to dangerous content families need to be aware of, but issues like addiction and cyber bullying too. As the number of avenues into the online world grows, it’s no wonder so many parents find themselves struggling to protect their kids in the digital world.
With the steps above, you can take a more comprehensive approach to defend your children from potential issues, wherever they are.