In a drive to make Internet more safe for the various users, but most especially for young children, a campaign titled “Think before you click” was launched recently in Malta, supported by a number of entities. Such endeavours are not only run locally but also internationally, such as that of the UNICEF, Safer Interne Day, etc. Using the Internet carefully is of outmost important, but, there are a few vital steps to be taken by everyone to ensure that the online environment remains safe. In 2008 an Internet Safety Task Force were asked to draw up a literature review, which report was titled “Online Threats to Youth.” This report listed three main areas of challenges at that time. These were, solicitation, harassment, and problematic content. Making a search online, a particular site suggested the following challenges to which, children using the Internet are exposed to, namely, cyberbullying, exposure to inappropriate material, online predators and revealing too much personal information. From a closer point of view, both the experts’ report and the information mentioned by the website, have all in common except for one specific aspect, ‘revealing too much personal information.’ Whilst the first three items found in both information sets might be obvious, the ‘too much information’ might be not. Consequently, it is imperative that, when using the Internet, you make sure to choose authoritative sites, especially when you are asked to create a personal account. Another aspect is the password. These should be at least 14 characters long, and include, both upper and lower case text, numbers, special characters, and make sure that the word is not a dictionary word! Finally, I would like to propose the following tips for parents who have children who make use of the Internet, either for leisure or school work.
- Place your computer in a visible area of your home;
- If your children have the PC in their room, make sure to leave the door open;
- Envisage a time-limit;
- Search the sites yourself, then guide the child to the same sites;
- To monitor their devices, access the ‘History’ tab from the browser to check the sites visited;
- Invest some time to surf the Internet together with your children, so that you get accustomed to what they do;
- In the case of social media like FB, Instagram, etc., be aware of who your children’s friends are; if needed, create rules such as, children need permission to add friends;
- The most important thing is to create trust, so that dialogue becomes natural and no need to hide information from you as their parent.