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How to make children aware of the dangers of the internet

In our current digital society we can no longer ignore the internet. It is therefore important to familiarize children with the Internet at an early age. Developing good digital skills will often come in handy later on. But just as it is natural to learn traffic rules, it is also necessary to observe the rules of the digital highway.

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Children and the Internet:dangers lurking

Watch a movie on the laptop or play a game on the iPad. It seems like a harmless pastime, but sometimes it only takes one mouse click to open the door to less suitable content. As a parent, you should not think that your child of six will suddenly see pornographic or violent images. Or that a child molester pretends to be a peer of your child in a chat room and seeks contact.

It is also common for children to be bullied on the Internet outside the supervision of parents and teachers. Cyberbullying can have a major impact on children's lives and shame can leave the subject untouched. And then there are also scammers who use phishing emails and pop-ups to try to gain access to the most sensitive and personal information on your device.

Browse the net safely? You can take these steps

Fortunately, there are a number of steps you can take to ensure that your child surfs the internet as safely as possible:

Parental controls for children and the internet

Watch your children when they surf the internet or chat with someone. Check your browser history regularly , so you know exactly which websites your child visits. If you find out that your child has seen something that was not intended for his age, you can also intervene immediately by discussing it. Preferably let your child use the internet in the same room where you are.

Enter conversation

It may seem obvious, but it cannot be said often enough. Keep talking with your child and make it clear that everything is negotiable. If you say that something is not allowed, you must also explain why. Just as you warn your child not to walk with strangers, you also warn against strangers on the internet. Make good agreements about internet use.

Your child will probably have used an avatar. So other people can also use an avatar and pretend to be different from who they are. Therefore, encourage your children to only chat with other children or family members they actually know. Making your child aware of these dangers will also make them more likely to sound the alarm if they receive strange messages. Also explain that everything that is placed on the internet will always remain there.

Use software to monitor internet usage

As a parent, it is not possible to constantly look over your child's shoulder. That should not be desirable either, because that is not pleasant for anyone. A good solution to minimize the dangers is to install parental control software † This software filters websites for their content and blocks those that are not suitable for young visitors. This software also offers the possibility to keep track of screen time and online activities. This way, as a parent, you have a good overview of what your children see and do on the internet.

Choose a child-friendly browser

You can also install a browser specially designed for children † Examples include Krowser, Benzoy or MyBee. If your child then types a word like "cat" into the search bar, you can be assured that only pictures of cute kittens will appear.

Set up VPN connection for children and internet

Even outside the home, the children will sometimes want to use the internet. Especially if it is a bit older, has its own smartphone and perhaps already has some pocket money to pay for its own bundle. For adults, something that is free is already attractive. But for a child it is completely a gift. We are, of course, talking about the free internet that you find in many public places. Don't let your child open the door to hackers and viruses, but set up a VPN. You can read more about what VPN means here: A Virtual Private Network that encrypts information you send to a public Wi-Fi hotspot. This way, no malicious person can get away with personal and sensitive information through your child.