After a divorce, you might see your kids withdraw to the virtual world. There, they’ll be vulnerable to online criminals, malicious sites, and cyberbullies. Even if you struggle to dedicate time to your kids in this difficult time, you have to take steps to keep them safe online.
Here Are Ways to Protect Your Kids Online After Divorce
1) Educate Yourself About Internet Security
Do you know how to recognize malicious links? Would you be able to tell a phishing website from a real one? Have you ever encountered a cyberbully? Do you know which online gaming sites are dangerous?
If not, then you’ll have some research to do. You can start with a general internet safety guide and then proceed to specific topics, like cyberbullying.
2) Have a Talk With Your Kids
Even if your child is very young, you still need to explain why you want to limit or control their use of the Internet. The earlier you start, the better. Such talks should be open discussions, not lectures. Here are some rules to follow:
– Show real interest. Ask what your kid likes to do online, which sites they visit and why. Remember, it’s not an interrogation!
– If you think that some of the sites they use are not OK, express your concerns. Don’t be judgemental, just explain why you are worried.
– Get their point of view. Why do they like these sites?
– Try to find out if they face any problems online, such as bullying. You’ll need to be very diplomatic and show your child that they can trust you. For more advice on such talks, see here.
3) Two Houses, One Set of Rules
Continuity and coherence are key when co-parenting. This applies to internet security, too.
With all the unpleasant things you’ll have to discuss with your ex, online security might not be the first thing on your mind. But it’s a conversation you’ll need to have if your kids are going to spend time with both of you.
Perhaps your ex-spouse doesn’t think that internet safety is such a big deal. Maybe they’d rather let the kids spend time with their gadgets and keep quiet. Your ex might even think that you’re overreacting.
Explain that you want to have a shared set of rules that you both agree on. If you’re already seeing some worrying signs in your child’s behavior, describe them. For example, instead of saying, ‘there are pervs out there stalking kids!’, you can say, ‘Our son is spending over 4 hours a day on online gaming sites’.
4) Explain the Rules to Your Child
Once you’ve worked out the rules with your ex, discuss the boundaries with your kids. Be assertive and cooperative. It’s better to write down all the rules and hang them on the wall somewhere.
If you are planning to activate parental controls on devices (see below), be honest about it. If your child discovers that you’ve been spying on them without their knowledge, it can ruin the trust between you.
5) Set Parental Controls
There are many types and levels of controls you can set on various devices.
1) ISP. Many ISPs let you activate parental controls for free. You can create special accounts for your kids, block certain sites, limit access duration, etc.
2) WiFi access. You can also set up your router to turn off the wifi on your child’s device at a certain time of day – or filter the sites they can access. See this guide for details.
3) Smartphones and tablets. On mobile devices, you can restrict access to PlayStore and App Store, block particular apps and sites, prevent in-app purchases, limit screen time etc. If you let your child use your own device, you can create a special account for them.
4) Special software. Apps like Qustodio, Kaspersky SafeKids, KidLogger, NetNanny, and FamilyShield let you monitor your child’s online activity. You can see which sites they visit, block inappropriate content, track their device via GPS, and even record their conversations.
6) Be Your Kid’s Role Model
Have you heard the saying ‘Do as I say, not as I do’? Your kids won’t learn to stay safe online if they constantly see you glued to your phone screen.
You have to lead by example – in 3 ways:
1) Cut your own screen time. Avoid spending too much time with your gadgets when the kids are around. Let them see that you’re at your laptop for work, not leisure.
2) Limit your use of Facebook and Instagram. If you don’t, your kid will think, ‘Why are you allowed to do it and I’m not? It’s unfair!’ All you’ll get will be resentment.
3) Don’t waste time on useless sites. Let your children see you read serious news websites, articles about science, cinema etc. It will show them that there is valuable content on the internet – not just gossip and fake news.
7) Teach Your Kids to Recognize Malware
Lots of malicious sites promise free movies and music streaming. What they actually do is make you install malware or steal your credit card details.
You need to sit down with your kid and show them some examples of such sites and the tricks they use.
Sites with strange URLs, flashy buttons that say Download or Click Here to Stream – all these things should be instantly suspicious.
8) Get Them Interested in Other Things
Your kids’ trust in you can be damaged by the divorce. They may feel like you’ve let them down. To rebuild that trust and keep them safe, you’ll need to spend time with your child – and do something fun together.
Think of a new hobby, craft or sport you could do together. Gardening, origami, birdwatching, collecting minerals – it can be anything. The important thing is to spend time with your kids away from the screen. It’ll do you a lot of good, too.
Even if you have to stay at home because of the coronavirus pandemic, there are still dozens of fun things for you to do. You can find more ideas here.
When you have to rebuild your life from scratch after divorce, it can be tempting to leave your kids to their gadgets. But your child is particularly vulnerable during this time – and needs your help. It is crucial it properly protect your kids online after divorce.
Make your kids’ internet safety your top priority: they will thank you for it later.
Natalya Diatko is part of the HRank.com team acting as a project and content manager. Using advanced technologies and finding new business tactics makes her feel happy. Her goal is to help entrepreneurs and startups out there grow their business on their own, without spending thousands on marketing consultants. www.HRank.com