The pandemic has left a significant impact on everyone’s life. With education being shifted online, kids spend their major part of the day in front of screens. And since social distancing continues to be the norm and people not leaving their house as frequently as before, social gatherings, playdates, sleepovers, and picnics have come to a halt. From online education and chats with grandparents and friends to music lessons, everything is shifted online. This has inadvertently increased the screen time of kids to a great extent.
But since video calls and online chats play a great role in helping kids stay connected with the people in their lives while keeping their spirits up, it raises the question – how to keep kids safe online during the pandemic?
The goal here is to limit the potential harm that comes with the internet without compromising on all the benefits that the internet has to offer. Striking a balance between the two can be a conundrum for parents. But fret not; continue reading our post as we bring you five ways to keep your kids safe online.
1. Keep The Interaction With Your Kids Open And Honest
Maintain an honest dialogue with your kids about what they do online, whom they communicate with, and what platforms they use. Try not to come across as someone who is probing and annoying, but keep the interactions kind and supportive. Be alert and check if your kid is being secretive or upset with online activities. Talk to them about cyberbullying and encourage them to talk to you if they ever face discriminatory or mean remarks in their online space. Similarly, educate them on cyberbullying and explain why it’s not okay to bully someone both online and offline.
2. Use Technology Wisely
Ensure that all the phones and laptops are running on the latest software with antivirus programs installed. To avoid any mishappenings, ensure that the webcam is always covered when not in use. Teach your kids to always keep their privacy settings on. For the younger ones in the family, several tools are available, such as parental controls and safe search that ensure that their online experience always remains positive.
Be aware of free online resources that require your child to provide their photo or full name to use the resources. Always check the privacy settings to ensure that the data collection is kept to a minimum. Educating your child about the different settings could help them use it wisely. Kids today are tech-savvy, so simply informing them of the various ways will help them navigate through everything with ease.
3. Take An Interest In Their Online Activities
Educate your children about the different online platforms that they could use to connect with their friends and family. The pandemic can be hard on kids since they can’t physically be with friends, making virtual interactions crucial at a time like this. Teach your kids why it’s essential to model empathy and kindness in all of their interactions.
By spending time with them online, you could also help your kids avoid misinformation and figure out what sites they could refer to get more information about the pandemic. Finding age-appropriate apps and websites is crucial to reduce any anxiety that may be a result of misinformation.
4. Encourage Good Online Habits
Encourage your kids to be mindful and respectful of others during their online classes. Learn if there’s any dress code that needs to be followed and give them a designated learning space so they can avoid joining classes from the bed. Familiarizing oneself with various helplines to report cyberbullying as well as the school policies can also be helpful.
Since kids will be spending a large chunk of their day online, create awareness about online ads that promote age-inappropriate material and unhealthy content.
5. Make Sure They Have Fun
At a time when you can’t enjoy the physical presence, which includes hanging out with friends or enjoying a fun game night, it’s important to keep the virtual interactions as fun as possible. You could set up a virtual game night or dance night that would get them up and moving and enjoy each other’s company despite being limited to a virtual screen.
Along with encouraging healthy online habits, it’s also essential to monitor and establish rules on their screen time, such as how long and where their devices can be used. While online entertainment can be fun, try to balance it with some offline activities to maintain a healthy balance.
What are some of the ways that you keep your child safe online during the pandemic? Comment below and let us know.