Children – Internet: Enable the little ones to handle it safely

A study on childhood, the Internet and the media (KIM study) found that 97 percent of children aged 6 to 12 have access to the Internet at home.

Children, Internet and effective protection / Image:

This involves having fun, promoting communication via chats and messengers, learning media-technical skills as well as acquiring different learning contents. However, the dangers of using the Internet cannot be dismissed.

Violent films, pornography and cyberbullying are just a few of the things that make it necessary to teach children how to use the Internet appropriately.

Measures and rules for the safe use of the Internet

A useful media literacy of the child presupposes a reasonable media education of the parents. This includes various measures and rules to enable children to use the Internet safely.

Surfing together with the children

Especially children who are not yet able to read and write cannot correctly classify the contents of the Internet and cannot correctly assess the possible consequences of their behaviour on the Internet. In this case in particular, parents should actively accompany their children’s surfing. Therefore, it is worthwhile to surf for yourself in order to be able to present interesting and worth knowing websites to the child. Show them which websites they are allowed to visit and which of them are unsuitable for which reasons. Select them according to your interests and age. Use a whitelist to filter unwanted websites: You determine which pages should be accessible, all others remain blocked. When your child is older, has mastered cultural techniques and has become safe in using the Internet, you can let him or her surf independently for a fixed period of time. However, you should stay within reach in order to be able to provide help if you have any questions. Tip: Children can make a so-called surfing certificate on the Internet, which gives them all the important information and interesting facts about the Internet.

Set time limits

You should set time limits together with your child. This includes not only surfing the Internet, but also playing computer games and using other media such as television. Experts recommend the following age-related times:

AgeTimelimit4 to 6 yearsMaximum 30 minutes per day6 to 9 yearsMaximum 60 minutes per day9 to 12 yearsMaximum 90 minutes per dayWhen dealing responsibly with time limits from 10 years of ageLet the child divide his media time over the week by himself. Make sure, however, that the child does not exceed a total of ten hours.

Installing Parental Controls Software

Special software includes a parental control that allows you to set general time limits, limits for individual programs, and filters (depending on age or category). A blacklist is available for older children and adolescents: This allows you to define problematic pages that you can specifically block using special programs. It can also be used to filter websites that contain key terms that indicate age-inappropriate content.

Set up an email account for the child

In order to set up an e-mail account, you should choose providers of special children’s pages, because e-mail access, mailbox and handling are particularly clear and child-friendly. Experts recommend setting up two separate e-mail accounts:

  • An e-mail address is used by your child to keep in touch with friends and acquaintances. Encourage him or her to give this address only to friends and acquaintances.
  • A second address is used to register in chats and communities (on children’s sites!).

Important: Check the news regularly with your child. In this context, be sure to explain the danger of spam emails from unknown senders and the associated phishing risk. Find out more about the possibilities of Internet insurance, which provides you and your family members with legal protection against online crime, fraud and other activities on the Internet.

Protect personal data

Tell your child not to share personal information such as address, postal or e-mail address, photos, or phone numbers with anyone on the Internet. Neither from yourself nor from family or friends.

No storage of passwords or other data

Surfing together with children / Image: Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock

Agree with your child to discuss downloading files with you. Also make sure they don’t store passwords or even have access to your credit card number, especially if they’re surfing the family PC you use. Websites are increasingly storing credit card data automatically. To be on the safe side, activate this process after each purchase, usually under the “Settings” and “Payment” sections. In this way, you prevent unwanted purchases or other contracts from being concluded by your ignorant child. For example, you can set up a separate account for your child on the computer on which the installation of programs is only conditionally possible. Certain programs selected by parents can be saved on the start page of the browser. Thus you already make a pre-selection, which makes the World Wide Web for your child and its entrance into the media world clear and safe.

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Christina Cherry
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