4 Ways To Protect Your Child Online

October 14, 2022

Technology and the internet continue to advance and sweep our nation’s attention and time. Yet, there are several risks that come with sharing your life and information online. As a parent, you want to protect your child online and at all costs. Of course, social media, online gaming, and general internet use can be fun and engaging for children, but there are many risks you need to take into consideration.

The Importance Of Protecting Your Child Online

Although the internet is a dangerous place for anyone when it comes to your private information and data, children and teens tend to be especially vulnerable. Here at Holly Springs Pediatrics, we understand the importance of online safety. Continue reading to learn five ways to protect your child online.  

1. Establish Internet Ground Rules

With over 73% of teens and 75% of children under the age of 8 having access to some smart mobile device, establishing internet safety ground rules is a great first step in your venture to protect your child online. The best way to do this is to talk openly and honestly with your child about the dangers that can coincide with internet and social media use. A few questions we suggest asking are:

  • What is your favorite thing to do online? 
  • Can you show me how your favorite game works?
  • What websites or apps do you use?
  • Do you follow people you don’t know?
  • Who are you talking to online?
  • Do you understand why it is dangerous to reveal personal information?
  • Can you trust anyone or anything on the internet? Why or why not?
  • Do you understand the importance of your online reputation?

Depending on the age of your child, these questions may vary. Allowing your child to answer these questions or show you their online habits will make it feel more like a conversation than demands. 

2. Utilize Parental Controls

One popular parental control that can help protect your child online and limit their time spent online is manually restricting screen time to a certain number of hours. To do this on an Apple device, follow the steps below:

  1. Go to Settings > Screen Time.
  2. Tap Turn On Screen Time.
  3. Tap Continue.
  4. Select This is My [device], or This is My Child’s [device].

If you don’t feel the need to limit their screen time, you can also opt to prevent specific web content. This can be done by:

  1. Go to Settings and tap Screen Time.
  2. Tap Content & Privacy Restrictions and enter your Screen Time passcode. 
  3. Tap Content Restrictions, then tap Web Content.
  4. Choose Unrestricted Access, Limit Adult Websites, or Allowed Websites Only. 

There are several other restrictions you can place on your child’s device, including changes to privacy settings, restrictions on the game center, and Siri web search restrictions. To learn more about these controls, visit Apple Support.

3. Have Open And Honest Dialogue

Having an open and honest dialogue with your child about online safety should not be a one-time conversation. As your child ages, you should relay age-appropriate warnings, discuss things they may come across, and let them know anything they upload or message could stay online forever. Additionally, as a parent, it is your job to monitor your child and their internet behaviors. It is important to keep in mind some warning signs your child may be in trouble online, including:

  • They are sensitive or defensive when you ask them about their online activities
  • Drastic changes in your child’s behaviors or withdrawn behavior
  • Excessive screen time during the evening or at night
  • Empty browser history
  • Texts, calls, mail, or gifts from people you don’t know

If you are worried about your child’s online behavior or safety, it may be necessary to obtain their login information. Remind your child this is not about snooping but about their overall safety. 

4. Lead By Example

Another way to protect your child online is to lead by example and never go against your word. If your child notices you following the same rules you have laid down for them, they are much more likely to follow in your footsteps. Take a moment to review your own online behavior before starting a conversation about the importance of internet safety. Additionally, it is essential to educate yourself on ways to be safe online, so you can ensure you are giving the best advice possible to your child.

The internet can pose all types of dangers, ranging from cyberbullying to information and data theft. Using the five tips above can help you to protect your child online so they can enjoy all the good and joyous opportunities the internet has to offer. Want to learn more about protecting your child’s digital footprint? Visit our website to schedule an appointment or call our Holly Springs, NC pediatric office at (919) 249-4700.