Ten top tips on e-safety for kids

Keep your children safe online

Ten top tips on e-safety for kids

You know that you need to keep your kids safe online, but figuring out where to start can be quite intimidating. Tamara Clarke, a crusader for digital safety here in the UAE and author of The Super Surfer, shares her tips to get you started.

Share selectively
Warn your kids that sharing personal information online can put them at risk. Details like their address, date of birth and whereabouts – which can be automatically shared using geotagging – should remain private. Take your own advice here and be careful what you share about your kids too. From birth announcements to milestones at school, you can drop a lifetime of personal information about your child before they can even post for themselves. Share personal details sparingly to preserve their privacy and avoid identity theft.

Set ground rules
Establish rules for your kid’s personal device and the consequences for breaking them. Be sure to clearly communicate these terms upfront so that everyone is on the same page.

Start early
The My First Device Report compiled and published by Norton Symantec revealed that seven is the average age for children to receive their own device in the UAE. Tablets are also making their way into schools so there’s no avoiding them. Prep your child on how to use the Internet as early as possible.

Make it worthwhile
Make screen time constructive by steering how your child spends their time online. For example, encourage them to use apps like Mathletics, which enables good digital fun and learning at the same time.

Use parental controls
There are tools available to help you manage your kids on the Internet. Apps like Google Family Link (available on Android devices) which lets you view their activity, approve or block app downloads and set limits on screen time are handy companions.

Get involved
Don’t hand over a device and leave them on their own. Stay involved by connecting with them online, talking to them about their digital activity and performing regular checks of their devices.

Teach digital citizenship
Teaching your kids how to be good digital citizens is just as important as blocking objectionable material. Impress upon them the importance of not engaging in bullying or other questionable behaviour online. Also, take it seriously if your child reports an incident of abuse on the Internet.

Know the code
As kids get older, it can be tricky managing them online but you must stay vigilant. Speak to your teens about the importance of keeping passwords and login credentials private – except when it comes to you. Make sure that you have immediate, unfettered access to your kid’s device at all times.

Adhere to age restrictions
Most social media platforms have age restrictions but did you know there’s really no robust age verification process? That’s where you come in. Allowing your kid to have social media accounts before the recommended age could open the door to problems. Before allowing your child to interact on these platforms make sure they are mature and old enough to engage responsibly. While age restrictions vary across platforms children must be at least 13 years old to have an account on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter.

Find balance
You’ll have less of a struggle keeping your kids off their devices when they have alternative things to do. Make sure that they’re being active every day and encourage them to enjoy activities like reading and playing games offline.
Dhs59. The Super Surfer, www.virginmegastore.ae.

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