Home Cyberpsychology & Technology How to Teach and Avoid Risky Internet Behaviour? Must-Read for Parents

How to Teach and Avoid Risky Internet Behaviour? Must-Read for Parents

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Kids love to explore and discover new things. Their curiosity doesn’t stop when they head online. Not having enough experience puts them at risk of online threats. 

Parents can teach their children about proper online behaviour and help them avoid problems in the virtual world. Here are the crucial pointers on how to educate your children about the internet and avoid risky actions!

Educate yourself on potential dangers

Before you can teach your children about risky internet behaviour, it’s vital to know what you are facing. The major online threats to your kid include:

  • Cyberbullies. Bullies exist in the virtual world, too. They send messages or share insulting, false, or otherwise negative things about the victim. Unfortunately, depression and low self-esteem are only some real-life effects of cyberbullying that victims could exhibit.
  • Predators. Virtual predators use grooming methods where they approach the child politely. Once they befriend them, the predators start taking advantage of children for sexual, financial, or other purposes.
  • Viruses and phishing. Suspicious links lead to virus installations. Phishing is a scammer’s approach to getting sensitive personal and financial data.
  • Inappropriate content. Exposure to violent videos, pornographic material, and other adult-rated content could affect the kid’s mental health in the long run.

Explore the virtual world together

During their first online endeavours, be next to your child. Ask them about how they’d like to spend time online. Would they like to play games, learn more about a specific topic, or watch funny videos and cartoons?

Depending on their preferences, you can point them out to age-appropriate websites. If you come across a suspicious ad or link, you can use it to discuss phishing and scammers. Be active, talk a lot, and don’t hesitate to explain every little detail on a webpage. As time passes, your notice the child adopting proper behaviour patterns when using the web.

Use an age-based approach when setting ground rules

You can demand a young kid to share internet account passwords with you, but your teen might not be willing to do that. It’s why you should set age-based ground rules for the internet, which should cover anything you’d like your kid to follow.

Some pointers include:

  • 2-4 years old. Parents should always be around when the kid uses the internet.
  • 5-7 years old. They became capable of using tech devices alone. However, parents should apply age-based filters and allow using the web only under supervision.
  • 8-10 years old. At these times, kids can visit websites you previously approve. But access to social media shouldn’t be available, except if it’s child-friendly.
  • 11-13 years old. While they can start chatting with friends on messaging apps, talk about the dangers of interacting with strangers.
  • 14-18 years old. They can get all the freedom when surfing the web. But they should be polite during interactions and underline the importance of turning to you if they encounter content that makes them uneasy.

Use parental control apps to simplify supervision

It’s impossible to always be around, so how about using technology to your advantage? If you install an app for parental control on iPhone or another device used by your kid, it will help supervise their online activities.

The apps come with the following monitoring features:

  • Web filters. You can adjust the site categories your kid can or can’t visit, block certain domains and URLs, etc.
  • App control. It’s possible to disable the downloaded software at any moment or specify times when the child can use it.
  • Safety alerts.  As well as providing text and iMessage message reports, the app can notify you if a “suspicious” message appears. Those are messages related to drugs, violence, nudity, etc.

Parental apps also have location services and an option to restrict the device’s functions. For example, you can turn off the camera to prevent your child from taking and sharing photos. It’s also possible to erase or lock the device if the kid loses the phone.

Final thoughts

Teaching your child about proper internet behaviour is an ongoing process. It begins by understanding the dangers they can face and then discussing them with your kid. Make sure they take their first steps into the virtual world while you are by their side. And encourage your child to share and report anything that makes them feel uneasy while surfing the web. Apart from establishing trust, supervising tools can be a valuable asset in avoiding children’s risky internet behaviour.


Adam Mulligan did his degree in psychology at the University of Hertfordshire. He is interested in mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.

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