What was your New Year’s resolution? I hope you resolved to be a proactive online safety parent!
Proactive preventive actions are directed towards a potential problem in the future. They help prevent a problem from ever happening.
Parents prevent harm to their children everyday in many ways. Electric outlet covers are installed to prevent little fingers and other objects from being inserted into an exposed electrical outlet. Bicycle helmets are worn to prevent head injury when children ride their bikes. Mom makes sure the bathtub water isn’t too hot to protect against burning and makes sure there is a mat on the floor of the bathtub to prevent slipping. Safety and prevention is simply an every day part of parenting.
In today’s digital device dominated world, parents can take simple actions that can make a big difference in preventing life changing mistakes and harm when a child goes online.
Going over safety rules with your child is a simple preventive action you can take to help protect your child when they go online. Just as a parent’s explain to their child why they need to wear a bicycle helmet, parents need to talk to their child about why they need to follow specific online safety rules.
Many accidents can be prevented in the offline world, and they can also be prevented in the online world. Parents watch their children offline to make sure they are safe. When they aren’t watching is when the trouble occurs. Poisoning accidents are one example. Did you know that according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, most poisonings accidents occur when parents are not watching their children closely, when parents are making dinner, for instance? Children stay safe when parents are paying attention.
In order to keep kids safe online parents must also pay attention to what they’re doing. Are their children on websites that are appropriate? Is it age appropriate? Are they chatting with people they don’t know? Are they giving out personal information that can put them at risk for identity theft or online predators? Are they being cyberbullied? Are they posting comments or images that college admissions officers may find less than desirable for one of their college applicants? These are all questions that parents should be able to answer if they’re paying attention to what their kids are doing online.
Safety and prevention begin at home. Isn’t it time to be a proactive – not reactive parent in your child’s online world? Let’s not allow a problem to get to a point where it needs to be contained and where corrective action needs to be taken. Let’s teach our kids online safety rules to prevent an online problem from happening in the first place. And then check-in on your child’s online activity to make sure they are following those rules.