Kids are online now more than ever with Internet access at home, school and on-the-go with mobile devices. The United Kingdom’s four largest Internet Service Providers have collectively launched Internet Matters, a non-profit organization that helps parents keep their kids safe online. According to Internet Matters, nine in ten kids under the age of ten go online and 26% of kids between the ages of ten and 13 are online for three or more hours a day.
Although there is an apparent shift in teens from Facebook to more private social networking apps, like Snapchat, it is still important to talk to your kids about privacy settings and their online reputation. Internet Matters claims that the average number of friends on social networking sites is 272 for kids between the ages of 12 and 15. Sit together with your kids and go through their privacy settings with them. This will help you get a better understanding of how social networks work and will provide you with the opportunity to talk openly about the importance of online privacy. Kids may not realize how harmful social networking sites can be to their reputation and that once something is published online it is difficult to permanently remove and can come back to haunt them.
You teach your kids to be kind to others, to tell you or a teacher if a classmate is bullying them and to not talk to strangers – these same rules apply online. Internet Matters states that 60% of teens have been asked to share inappropriate images and videos of themselves. Bullies and sexual predators have an open invitation to your home thanks to the Internet. This makes it vital for you to talk to your kids about who they talk to and what topics they discuss online. Let them know they can come to you if someone bullies them or approaches them in an uncomfortable way, whether it be on social networking sites or in private chats. Make sure your kids only connect with and talk to people they know and trust in real life and never reveal personal information such as their address or inappropriate images under any circumstance.
How do your children go online? Do you use and share mobile devices in your family? Take our anonymous survey here!