How Safe Is Your Child Online?
A common question we get asked is whether a foster child should be monitored online. The internet can be a scary place and in recent years cyber-bullying has become a particular problem.
So how can you tell if your child is safe online and how frequently should their internet use be monitored? Here are our thoughts on how to help ensure your child is safe online…
Monitoring their behaviour
One of the easiest ways to determine whether there’s a problem with your foster child in relation to their internet usage is to monitor how they react before and after they have used it. Say for example your child is a lot more withdrawn after using the internet, it could be a sign that they are a victim of cyberbullying.
Rather than avoid the internet completely, they may enjoy talking to their friends on social media, only to be confronted or harassed once they are on the site or perhaps they are simply curious to see what messages they have been sent.
Ask yourself, is your child overly happy once they have logged off? While this could be innocent enough, there’s also a possibility they may have befriended a stranger.
This is most common with teenagers. Young girls in particular, can get swept away by exciting strangers they meet online and many organise dates without their guardian’s knowledge, which is obviously a major concern.
So, their behaviour before and after going online will often give you a good idea of whether or not you should be concerned.
Checking internet history
The majority of children have no idea how to delete the browser history. So, this can be a great way to keep tabs on what they’re doing. It doesn’t allow you to see messages or breach your child’s privacy too much, yet it helps you to see whether they are visiting sites that they shouldn’t be going on.
With teenagers, it’s a good idea to chat to them prior to checking the history. Inform them that it’s something you’ll be doing from time to time and discuss the reasons why. This helps to maintain a healthy relationship, showing that you aren’t going behind their back and letting them know ahead of time what will happen. Often this will be enough to prevent them going on any inappropriate sites.
You may be thinking to yourself – but if they know I’m checking the history, won’t they just delete it? This is a possibility, however, did you know you can stop users from being able to delete their history? It’s not something that’s widely known, but it is possible to disable the “delete browser history” function.
Overall, there are many things you can do to protect your foster child online but one of the best things to do is make sure they know they can talk to you if there’s a problem. Open communication where the child feels confident confiding in you is the best way to get ahead of an issue quickly before any concerns arise.