As in the real world, we parents should also keep an eye on our children in the virtual space. These tips will keep you safe online.
A life without smartphone, Facebook and Co.? Especially for young people, who these days 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 life. Even if 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-off 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 bans:
1. Get started
To support your children online, for example, you should know which social networks exist and how they work. Create your own profiles on the various platforms – not to control your children, but just to try it out for yourself. You do not need to become an active user; a profile can be made completely private, run under a pseudonym and require no photos of you.
2. Prohibition arouses curiosity
Some parents prefer not to let their children use Instagram, Snapchat or certain websites for safety reasons. However, this is not very advisable: for teenagers, everything that is forbidden is immediately much more exciting! And you can’t check if your child isn’t secretly logging into Instagram, and young people can quickly figure out how to delete a browsing history. Another reason against prohibition: Confirmation and belonging play a significant role, especially during the teenage years. If all friends are on Instagram, just not your child, they quickly lose touch and are automatically banned.
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 won’t 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 are almost impossible to erase. It is precisely in such situations that you should try to learn from the mistakes together with your 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 opportunity, even adults accidentally click on links that display disturbing or repulsive content. It is precisely in such situations that you must stand by your child as a trusted person.
4. Agree on rules
Just like with your everyday family life, you should also agree on rules for the internet. “Don’t get into strangers’ cars” is here: Don’t chat with strangers. Train your children’s critical eye, make it clear that a healthy mistrust is also important online. After all, you never know if the chat partner is really who he pretends to be. Talk about privacy settings and personal information. Agreed that passwords can 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 you will find a good 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 fridge. Of course, the rules also apply to parents.
5. Check your own surfing behavior
Parents should be role models for their children, also in the virtual world. Anyone who is constantly posting private photos and spreading personal information online will find it difficult to convince their children to be careful about it. You must always be on the safe side with your own posts – you too can be Googled by your children! Also, refrain from publishing pictures of children, not only out of caution against pedophilia. Your teenage kids will thank you, because 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 are also dangers lurking in online communities, free apps and games – when in doubt for your wallet! Since most young people do not yet have their own credit card, they can use their parents’ internet bill. This works via so-called value-added services, which deduct the amount due from the respective mobile phone or internet bill. A convenient way to pay, especially when pocket change is not enough.
Ad banners in apps can also represent subscription traps, sometimes a single accidental tap is enough to subscribe to a paid service. Explain to your child how these paid offers work and, to be safe, block all value-adding services in your child’s mobile phone contract.
7. Use parental controls
Child protection filters ensure that content harmful to young people is not shown. Violent, hateful and pornographic sites are filtered from 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 functions such as location services, installing and deleting apps, changing 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-eyes principle. On Facebook you have z. B. also the ability to look at the profile from the eyes of strangers to check if what should remain private is really private.
9. Immediate action in case of bullying
Cyberbullying is a huge problem in the digital world. Anonymity and non-personal encounters reduce the inhibition threshold for discrimination and worse for many. If you find out that your child is being bullied online, you should react quickly. Always in consultation with your daughter or son, of course:
- Take screenshots of messages, comments or images.
- Uses the respective network’s blocking and reporting feature.
- Talk to other parents about their experiences.
- Download the app “Cyber-Mobbing First Aid” from the EU initiative “klick-safe”. On one side there are advice numbers and chats and there are also two guides, one for girls and one for boys. Short videos give tips on how young people should react now.
10. Seek help
You have the feeling that your child is having problems on the Internet, but you don’t talk to yourself about it? For worried parents, there is the adult grief number. Below 0800 111 0550 you get free and anonymous help. Even children who do not want to approach 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 complaint offices www.jugendschutz.net or www.internet-beschwerdestelle.de.
At www.klicksafe.de/materials you will also find much more material on the subject that 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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