Today’s Internet creates a helpful environment for children to study, play and interact online. A great opportunity for children to build friendships and stay connected with those around them. However, with more and more people joining online, children are more vulnerable to receive contact from strangers, or called unwanted contact online from people they don’t know.
That’s why the article below will help you with 9 internet safety tips for parents to avoid unwanted contact and grooming, as well as some tips for keeping children safe online during the COVID, ensuring healthy and safe online conversations for your child.
What is unwanted contact online?
Unwanted contact is any approach that makes your child uncomfortable or puts them in a situation where they may not be safe. This can happen as soon as your child accepts a friend request from a stranger or when he or she leaves any personal information public.
Unwanted contact is most likely to come from a stranger but is still very likely to come from an online ‘friend’ or even someone your child actually knows.
One of the worst behaviors of unwanted contact from strangers is grooming – seduce children into sexual assault – the act of attackers building a relationship with a child in order to gain trust, thereby sexually abusing them.
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This abuse can happen in real life, but due to the epidemic, it is happening more and more online such as sexually abusing children through webcams or enticing children or young people to send and share their sensitive photos/videos.
How to better protect children from online predators?
- Encourage your child to set their account to private on social networking sites to limit who can access their information and only to people they already know.
- Go through all of your child’s followers or friends on social media, ask them if they really know those friends, and remove contacts they don’t know or have not ever talked with.
- Remove friend requests from strangers – encourage your kids to unfriend or delete follow requests from people they don’t know.
- Report and block – when your child receives any unwanted contact or content that makes your child feel uncomfortable like pornographic images/videos, etc. from someone they know or a stranger.
- Teach your child to be on the lookout for signs of inappropriate contact – help your child quickly recognize the signs that an online friend may be trying to develop an inappropriate relationship, such as :
-Ask a lot of questions about personal information right after meeting online
-Request a face-to-face meeting
-Ask them where their computer is located
-Your child does something at the request of the partner and will be reciprocated (sexual abusers often use promises and gifts to gain the victim’s trust).
-Want to keep the relationship secret – online seducers often try to keep a relationship secret, demanding it’s something ‘special’ just between the two of them.
-Contact your child often and in a variety of ways, such as texting, through Instagram, or online chat platforms.
-Usually compliments her on her looks or body
9 internet safety tips for parents to avoid unwanted contact and grooming
Join the digital world with your child
Update the websites, apps, and online chat services your child or other children at the same age is using to better understand current trends, and their advantages and disadvantages.
And incorporate appropriate lessons accordingly
After you learn the apps, games, and websites your child is using, it will help you better understand what they are doing and why they like this app, game, or website, as well as providing a great opportunity to start talking to children about online safety – unwanted contact and grooming are one of those.
Help your child develop soft skills in the digital age
Build positive habits and help your child develop their digital intelligence on the Internet – the virtual world is no less important than teaching them real-life skills. Here are some digital Internet skills your child needs to be a responsible online user:
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-Digital Emotional Intelligence
Build a trusting, open relationship with your child
Keep communication open and calm so your child knows they can come to you when someone asks your child to do something they don’t feel right or when someone shows them content that upsets them, for example, pornography. Online attackers often send pornographic content to children to stimulate their curiosity.
Don’t overprotect your kids online
As the Internet has more and more risks, parents are starting to worry more about the harmful effects on their children, and since then, when there is demand, the supply appears with a series of tools to facilitate parents to keep track of their children’s every move on the Internet.
The line between protecting and invading children’s privacy is very blurred. To satisfy their fears, many parents have to pay dearly for over-controlling their kids. When you constantly find ways to look at your child’s laptop, phone, or read your child’s messages/calls, track their every activity on social networks, you are invading their privacy online, making them become more secretive and avoid sharing with their own parents.
So be careful when choosing any parental control software.
Don’t just set a screen time limit, understand what’s happening on it
Almost every computer and the phone has a tool that measures your child’s screen time (Screentime) and can block access to an app if the time has expired. Many parents make the mistake of saying that setting these features to their children’s devices is enough, that ensuring the time their children use the Internet is most important, but in fact, what is happening on the screen is more important.
Actively applying the suitable technological tools/software
One of the most useful Internet safety tips for parents!
You should take advantage of available tools to set up parental controls on your child’s device to filter out harmful content, limit the use of the device, or some other features for children such as no in-app purchases. You may need some online safety tips for kids below:
- How to set up parental controls on Macbook
- How to block porn sites on Google Chrome
- How to block porn sites on Safari
- Set up parental controls for Microsoft Edge
- Set up parental controls for Youtube
However, with the spread of harmful content (especially porn) calculated by the second, by the minute, the available features of the devices and platforms are absolutely not enough.
To ensure your child’s online environment is safe and healthier, many parents have installed one of the best free parental control software – online content filtering tool to hide 15 types of harmful content on the Internet, including:
- Horrifying content like gore, accidents, ghosts, violence, murder, terrorism, etc
- Content about stimulants, addictive substances such as alcohol, beer, marijuana, drugs, etc
- Content with aggressive elements, hurting others like Hate speech
The special thing is that this extension is completely free, helps to minimize your child’s access to harmful content, ensuring a healthy online environment for your child but at the same time, not invading their privacy rights.
Pay attention to your child’s mental abnormalities
Some signs like staying up too late, staying away from family members, suddenly not wanting to use social networks, low self-esteem, suddenly being quiet, etc. This could very well be a sign that your child has been sexually assaulted online or has become a victim of online violence. Being delicate will help you understand and solve the problem in time.
Mentally prepare if something goes wrong
Talk to your child without judgment or anger. Make your child feel as though they can come to you for anything without fear of your punishment or criticism. Find out what happened and take action to protect your child.
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