Don’t your heart skip several beats when you imagine what your child may be doing on the internet? Think about when you were growing up; the times you did some things you shouldn’t have done, and your parents constantly scolded you (but perhaps didn’t take out special moments to teach you how to safely use the internet). It’s your turn to worry about your child now but you can change the narrative completely. Don't assume the kids know these things already, don't leave them to learn from their peers. Here are 4 major things about internet or phone safety that you should discuss with your kids.

Do not use your real name online

The use of real names should be reserved for safe official spaces, not social media or random internet forms or pages. Being social should have limits, teach your children not to leave their entire footprints online. While it may be okay for everyone in their social circle to know who they are, putting their full name on social media is not advisable. This has led to identity theft, current and potential employer monitoring and lots more.

Never enter your date of birth into random forms online

Subscribing to social media apps, games or other online platforms have age limits; this doesn’t mean they must enter their real date of birth. Teach your child to have an ‘online date of birth’ which could be anything random. This date of birth change should however not be inflated to allow them use non-age-appropriate websites or social media platforms.

Never send your pictures to people online

Teach them to only share ‘appropriate’ pictures on the internet. Teach them not to follow trends because those ‘unpleasant’ pictures and videos stay on the internet forever. Teach them the phrase ‘internet never forgets’. Specifically mention that they should not share pictures of their body parts with anyone even if the other party sends them similar picture.

Avoid Lengthy typed messages

Teach them to call instead. To discuss lengthy issues over the phone and avoid being caught up in long exchange of messages. Tell them that someone may take a hold of part of that conversation and twist it against them completely while it gets difficult to defend themselves after such info goes viral. This holds true for voice notes too especially if there’s argument or exchange of confidential information.  

There are lots more and hopefully this piece opens your mind to many other things you should teach the kids. Don’t wait until they do the wrong thing before you teach. Be proactive, implement few of the ideas offered here immediately.

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