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How to Turn Your Child Away from Risky Online Behavior?

The internet delivers many benefits, including fast communication with friends, having fun by playing games and watching movies, and even learning online. But unfortunately, it also comes with many dangers, especially for children.

Kids might exhibit risky online behavior for different reasons. They might be unaware of how serious the situation is or do it out of spite of their parents. As a parent, you can do things to turn your kids away from risky online behavior. Here are a few tips that could help achieve that goal!

Establish Trust and Communication with Your Child

It takes time and effort to establish a bond with your child, especially as they grow older. You want to be supportive daily and express interests in things that matter to them. Here are some topics to cover on a daily level:

  • Things that happened in school or at other activities they had
  • Conversations they had with their friends
  • New cartoons, movies, and other current trends are a great way to bond
  • Anything that might worry your kid or any topic they want to discuss

Even if your child did something wrong, don’t give them a lecture. Instead, ask for their point of view and explain why you don’t approve of those actions. It’s not about accusations and punishments since that could push your children toward worse behavior. Instead, they should know your goal as a parent is only to keep them safe from potential threats.

Point Out and Review Risky Behaviors

How would a child know what’s risky behavior if nobody discusses it with them? It’s your task as a parent to get them familiar with dangers lurking in the virtual world, such as cyberbullying and predators.

Here are some things children shouldn’t do online:

  • Add strangers to their friends on Facebook. The same applies to followers on Instagram and other social media.
  • Keep their profile public. Only your kids’ friends should see their photos and other updates.
  • Share sensitive information. That could be their address, whereabouts, vacation details, school name, etc. If you let them know this puts them at the entire family at risk, it decreases the odds of a child sharing that info.
  • Communicate with strangers or anyone that seems suspicious. Even if the profile seems to be of a real friend, it could be a fake. Kids should know they can talk to you if they notice anything weird.
  • Meet people they only know online in person. They should never accept these meet-ups, and they should inform you immediately.

Talk About Monitoring

Did you know that adolescents are more prone to risky online behavior if they believe parental monitoring is intrusive? There’s a fine line between necessary and intrusive, but it’s wise to talk about this topic openly.

If you establish a strong bond with your child, they are likely to share everything that happened to them. That includes potential problems they encountered in the virtual world. But if children don’t feel they could confide in you, monitoring tools can help. You can use a parental control phone tracker for kids to monitor messages and calls. These apps have app control features that can even limit on-screen time. 

Before installing this app, try to explain your motives to your child in an open discussion. Explain that you won’t interfere or read messages unless they ask you to or the app sends you “safety alerts.” These tools might be necessary if your child won’t agree to stop risky online behavior. However, it’s always better to be upfront instead of sneaking up behind their back.

Bring Up Online Flirting and Sending Photos

Sexual predators lurk their victims in the virtual world by sending them messages in chat rooms and on social media. Be honest about how someone could sweet talk your child into believing they are a friend. Explain it could start with gossiping about celebrities and talking about casual topics. 

But if things move to flirting or discussing their sex lives, it’s a red flag. The same is true for sexy selfies and provocative images. Pinpoint how someone could publish those online for everyone to see, and that’s not something anyone wants to happen.

Final Thoughts

You can’t stop your child from using the internet, but you can explain how to act safely in the virtual world. It’s imperative to establish optimal communication and trust. If your child trusts you, it increases the odds they will try their best to avoid risky behavior online. Tell your kids they can always talk to you, especially when something seems wrong. They should know they can count on you to resolve a potentially problematic situation.

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