Proverbs 27:12 -
“A prudent[wise, smart] person foresees danger and takes precautions. The simpleton[ignorant,foolish] goes blindly on and suffers the consequences.”
When it comes to the internet and the dangers that exist online, this verse from Proverbs says it all. The internet today can literally be accessed by anybody at any time and from many different devices.
As Christian parents we need to be aware of and be proactive in taking the necessary precautions and steps to protect our kids online. Whether this be from social media, pornography, chat sites, online scams, online predators or whatever it may be. We need to take the time to talk to our kids about these dangers and keep tabs on their internet use in order to flag any inappropriate activity or habits.
What can you as Parents do to Protect your Child online?
1. Keep tabs on your Child’s Internet Activity
One of the best ways to protect your child online is to know what they are searching, who they are talking to and which sites are being accessed. This may sound like a daunting task especially if there are multiple devices in the home, and you are unable to be everywhere your kids are. The best way to keep tabs on your kids is to install a trusted online accountability software that monitors the activity and then sends you a report of all internet activity.
One of the top Christian based online monitoring softwares available is Covenant Eyes accountability software. It allows you to protect all of your devices for the whole family.
2. Outline What is Expected of your Child Online
Before allowing your child to access the internet sit down with them and talk about the online dangers that exist and give them a game plan to follow should they stumble on anything that is inappropriate or doesn’t seem right online.
Even though your child may not search or try to access websites that are inappropriate the fact of the matter is that if your child spends enough time online, the inappropriate content and other dangers will end up finding them and when the does happen, they need to know how to handle it.
3. Talk to your Child about Sharing Personal Information
Just as we talk to our kids about strangers and not accepting anything from them or going anywhere with them, we need to make them aware of the fact that there are many strangers online who are bad and therefore it is extremely important that they not give out any kind of personal information.
This is especially true of chat type sites or applications and social media websites. Keep the amount of personal information to an absolute bare minimum. Make it known to your child that should anybody ask for this information that they are to tell you right away.
4. Be Active in your Child’s Online Social Activity
Social networking and social media is one of the largest aspects on the internet that exists today. With websites like Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and the popularity of these websites among people of all ages, it is likely that your child will want to be a part of it as well.
It is important that you as parents decide on the age where you think it is appropriate and then when that age is reached that you help your child create their account and that you keep login information so that at any time you can log in and see what has been going on.
It is also important that if your child does have some accounts that already exist that you friend them or create your own personal account and link it to theirs. This way you can see all of the posts, their friends their shared pictures and all of the other information that shared to the public.
5. Limit the Amount of Time Online
Depending on the age of your child it is a good idea to limit the amount of time spent online or even on electronic devices per sitting or even per day. Electronics are great and the fact that they can talk to their friends and share stuff with them throughout the day is nice but there is more to life than Facebook or anything online for that matter.
The more time spent online, the less your child is going to have to do, and as they become bored their minds will tend to wonder and it is usually at this point that problems can occur.
6. Hold your Child Accountable for Their Online Activity
Let’s face it we all mess up, we all get tempted and we all need some redirecting at times back onto the correct path. There will be times where you child may wonder too far online, or may try to access websites or material that they know they are not supposed to. Regardless of what the reason, if your child directly violates the policies that you have set into place there has to be some repercussions for their actions.
It is important to let your child know that you are keeping an eye on them and that for every action there is a consequence. This will not only act as a deterrent but it will also help them to learn and understand that there are consequences for every action in all aspects of life.
7. Talk to your Child about Downloads
Online downloads, if they are not from trusted authority websites can deliver all kinds of problems. Downloads are often laced with viruses, spyware, malware, inappropriate ads, or contain some sort of phishing programs.
These programs can wreak havoc on your PC or other electronic device, but even more frightening is that they can be used to gain access to your personal information and even identity without you even knowing. It is important to tell your child that should they want to download anything or if they are prompted to download or install anything that they need to ask permission first.
The internet really is a great resource for many things, and although there are dangers that exist online, and while many of them are very easily accessible the fact of the matter is that taking precautions and using wisdom is the key to protecting your kids online.
The most important thing to take away from this article is to expose the evils of online by educating your children on these dangers, and keep them accountable for their online activity. It tells us in the Bible in Ephesians 5:11
“Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness; instead, expose them.”