"Get home before the dark." "Look left and right before crossing the street." "Don't talk to strangers." A few of the lines all parents put into their kids' brains from a young age to make sure they stay safe in the world on the other side of the door, often forgetting that the outside world already starts inside: the Internet and mobile devices bring in all information into kitchens, bedrooms or bathrooms all over the world, and with it also strangers. And though 84 percent of parents are worried about their children's online safety on average they only spend a total of 46 minutes talking to them about online security through their entire childhood. But how can parents keep their children safe online? #TimeToTalkOffline
Before you can talk about the Internet with your kids you first need to know more than how to go on Facebook or open your e-mails. Educate yourself on topics like fake news, cyberbullying or online grooming. Teach yourself how to keep your data safe online and then show your children how to secure theirs as well. Let them know that what goes on the Internet stays on the Internet, even if deleted from one's profiles. And the most important part: make them talk to you the moment they sense something is wrong. Whether it is someone telling them that he stole their pictures or data or a stranger asking them to share private photos.
Act as a role model
No matter what we tell our kids, we have to lead by example: if you're a smoker, no matter how often you tell your children, that smoking is bad for them, they are twice as likely to begin smoking. We can all talk a lot; in the end, our kids are going to copy our behavior and not just what we preach. Be careful of how you use the Internet, don't take your mobile with you when going to the toilet, and if your kids allow you to befriend them on social media (lucky you), don't judge them when they post jokes or complain about their homework – because they are well aware of how to keep you from seeing their posts, without you knowing – but teach them well and make them understand the consequences.
Trust goes both ways
You can't expect your kids to trust you when you check their browser history every time they are done using the computer - they probably know how to delete it anyway. Because then, they will start getting sneaky and hide things from you. If they think, they are doing something wrong and think they will get in trouble if you would find out, they might not come to you, when they really are in trouble, because a stranger online tells them to "brush [their] hair and take a picture." (Andrew Winton)