Parental controls are a great option for initial protection of your child from OCSE, however it should not replace other means of protecting children and it will always be more useful for younger children than older children. The older your child gets, the more likely they will find other ways of accessing the restricted content/websites. Therefore, in addition to parental control it is important to promote an environment of open discussion and encourage your child to be able to critically think when they might be in situations of risk online and what they can do to stay safe online.
Following are suggestions for topics to raise with your child that will help them stay safe online:
- Explore their online use – Ask them to teach you about their online use, and give you any tips they know for online use. It will show interest and involvement in their life and also help you understand what it is they do online.
- Privacy settings – Show them how to set their privacy settings and explain to them the importance of doing so.
- Interaction with strangers online – Help them understand that not everyone who is trying to communicate with them online has good intentions. Explain the dangers of receiving gifts from strangers online, risks of meeting in person people they just met online, sending and accepting pictures and files with strangers, and how to be critical of anyone sending them a friend request.
- Sharing online – Educate them on the risks of sharing personal information online, especially intimate photos, and what the consequences of their online actions are, both to themselves and others
- Limiting time online – Discuss the effects of excessive use of the internet and how they can balance with their offline world
- Risks of pornography and healthy relations – it may not be an easy topic to raise, but it is important children are aware of the risks and they understand about healthy sexual relationships in an age appropriate way.
- Not only protecting themselves – but also not to harm others – Discuss with your child the importance of being kind online just as in the offline world and that they should never pressure others to do something that may be harmful for other children.
- What to do in case they are at threat online – Create a safe space for communication and help them feel comfortable coming to you with questions and assure them you are there for them without judgement. This is the first step in ensuring they will come to you for help if anything were to happen. Make sure they know what to do if someone is acting inappropriately with them online and that they know how to block or report a person who is harassing them online and that they know when to talk about it with you.