10 tips on how to support your children

As in the real world, parents should keep an eye on their children in the virtual space. With our tips, your children stay safe online.

A life without smartphone, Facebook and Co.? Especially for young people who nowadays can no longer be imagined. Your children belong to the generation of digital natives, the internet and social networks are an integral part of their everyday lives. Even though the constant immersion in the virtual world sometimes annoys you: the Internet offers great opportunities, e.g. B. the chance to maintain social life despite school stress and lack of time and an incredible amount of accumulated knowledge. Nevertheless, there are some dangers lurking on the internet, especially for young people: cyberbullying, rip-offs and pedophilia are just a few of many. To avoid these, there are a number of things you can do to help your teens surf the Internet without control or ban:

1. Get started

To support your children online, for example, you should know what social networks exist and how they work. Create your own profiles on the various platforms – not to control your kids, but just to try it for yourself. You do not have to be an active user; a profile can be made completely private, run under a pseudonym and requires no photos of you.

2. Prohibition arouses curiosity

Some parents prefer not to let their children use Instagram, Snapchat or certain websites for security reasons. However, this is not very advisable: for teenagers, everything that is forbidden is immediately much more exciting! And you can not check if your child is not secretly logging on to Instagram, and young people can quickly find out how to delete a browser history. Another reason for bans: Confirmation and affiliation play a significant role, especially in adolescence. If all friends are on Instagram, just not your child, they quickly lose touch and are automatically excluded.

3. Strengthen trust

Mutual trust is always important, even when it comes to surfing the web safely. If your kids are afraid of being banned from the internet or having their smartphone confiscated as soon as something goes wrong online, they will not confide in you. What applies to real life should also apply to virtual space: everyone makes mistakes. The main difference: the Internet never forgets. Once the wrong images are circulated, they can hardly be deleted. It is precisely in such situations that one should try to learn from the mistakes along with one’s child instead of punishing them.

As in the “real” world, you should also know the places where your child is on the internet. In the web of possibilities, even adults accidentally click on links that display disturbing or repulsive content. It is precisely in such situations that you need to stand by your child as a trustee.

Cyberbullying, rip-offs and the like: The Internet also has its drawbacks. That is why it is important for parents to support their children online.

4. Agree rules

Just like with your everyday family life, you should also agree on rules for the internet. “Do not get into strangers’ cars” is here: Do not chat with strangers. Train your children’s critical gaze, make it clear that healthy mistrust is also important online. You never know if the chat partner really is who he pretends to be. Talk about privacy settings and personal data. Agreed that passwords may only be used once and must be as complicated as possible. Tools like LastPass are useful for keeping track of the flow of passwords. If you want to record it all, here’s a great tool for creating a media usage agreement. You can put together different rules and agreements, then print them out and hang them on, for example, your refrigerator. Of course, the rules also apply to parents.

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5. Check your own surfing behavior

Parents should be role models for their children, also in the virtual world. Anyone who constantly publishes private photos and spreads personal information online will find it difficult to convince their children to be careful about it. You should always be on the safe side with your own posts – you too can be googled by your kids! Also, do not post pictures of children, not just out of caution against pedophilia. Your teenagers want to thank you, for who wants to be seen in public on the internet in diapers or with a smeared face?

6. Educate about consequences

Young people often think that it is perfectly legal to download or stream movies or music. However, this is not the case with protected content. There is also danger lurking in online communities, free apps and games – in case of doubt for your wallet! Since most young people do not yet have their own credit card, they can use their parents’ internet account. This works via so-called value-added services, which deduct the amount owed from the respective mobile phone or internet bill. A convenient way to pay, especially when pocket money is not enough.

Ad banners in apps can also represent subscription traps, sometimes a single accidental click is enough to subscribe to a paid service. Explain to your child how these paid offers work and, for safety’s sake, block all value-added services in your child’s mobile phone contract.

7. Use parental controls

Child protection filters ensure that no content that is harmful to young people is displayed. Violent, hate and pornographic sites are filtered out of the search results and can no longer be accessed by the browser. In addition, a so-called blacklist can be created, which blocks certain pages and content. You can find more information and download the relevant software on Jusprog’s website. Protection of minors is a little more difficult on some mobile devices such as tablets or mobile phones. However, on most devices, various features such as location services, installation and deletion of apps, changes to user accounts and in-app purchases can be password protected with just a few clicks.

8. Four eyes see more

Have you ever clicked through the data protection and privacy settings on Facebook? It can really make your head spin. Therefore, review your settings together according to the four-eye principle. On Facebook you have z. B. also the ability to look at the profile from the eyes of strangers to check if what is to remain private is really private.

9. Immediate action in case of bullying

Cyberbullying is a major problem in the digital world. Anonymity and non-personal encounters reduce the threshold for discrimination and worse for many. If you find out that your child is being bullied online, you should respond quickly. Always in consultation with your daughter or son, of course:

  • Take screenshots of messages, comments or pictures.
  • Uses the blocking and reporting function of the respective networks.
  • Talk to other parents about their experiences.
  • Download the “Cyber-Bullying First Aid” app from the EU “click-safe” initiative. On one side there are counseling numbers and chats, and there are also two guides, one for girls and one for boys. Short videos provide tips on how young people should react now.

10. Seek help

You have the feeling that your child has problems on the Internet, but you do not talk to yourself about it? For worried parents, there is the number against grief for adults. Below 0800 111 0550 you get free and anonymous help. Even children who do not want to turn to their parents can also talk to the “number against grief” about it. Below 0800 111 0333 youth and adult counselors are available. There is also a help platform for young people for young people www.juuuport.de. Problematic websites and content can also be reported directly to the Internet Complaints Offices www.jugendschutz.net or www.internet-beschwerdestelle.de.

At www.klicksafe.de/materials you will also find much more material on the subject, which you can use to find out more.

In this video you will find a few more tips against bullying.

Is my child ready for high school?

Image source: Getty Images, Thinkstock

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