6 min Read

Internet Safety Tips for the Whole Family

Just in time for Internet Safety Day on February 7, we’ve teamed up with Microsoft Canada to bring you smart and easy online safety tips for the whole family.

Every generation of parents has its own set of struggles. Our parents and grandparents faced the ever-increasing cost of raising children, along with the pressure to do it all and have it all. But the current generation of parents has another, very real concern to contend with every day: online safety. Microsoft is working to help make this issue easier on parents with resources and products like the Microsoft Family Safety App or the Xbox Family Hub

Many parents today are digital natives (meaning they don’t remember a time before the internet) or near-digital natives where they had online access early on in their school years. However, the current technology is leaps and bounds from those early days. Kids as young as two or three have access to the internet through games and apps. It’s mind-boggling to watch a toddler expertly swipe through videos to find favourite clips of Bluey or Peppa Pig. Students in primary school are creating slide decks for assignments we used to do manually, easily searching for information and images without assistance (no magazine collages for these kids!). High schoolers are coding from scratch, building websites and using AI.

- internet safety tips for the whole family

But there are dangers that can come with this amplified tech access. In light of Internet Safety Day, we’ve worked with Microsoft to come up with a handful of ways to help keep your whole family safe online. 

Have the internet safety conversation early and often 

You might think toddlerhood is too early to start talking about online safety, but it really isn’t. If your kids have access to a connected device, they will no doubt learn how to use it quickly. While parental supervision is always recommended, it is also important to explain to young children what they are allowed to access on devices and what is off-limits. Microsoft is making it easier than ever for parents to create a safe and healthy environment for kids at every age with the Microsoft Family Safety App. Adults can use the app’s content filtering settings to set healthy boundaries, block inappropriate apps and games and limit browsing to only kid-friendly websites using Microsoft Edge on Xbox, Windows and Android. Healthy habits start early, so take advantage of these early years as an opportunity to set a healthy internet routine.   

Explain why it is so important to keep personal information private 

As kids get older, they will inevitably want to have access to games and apps that allow them to connect with friends, family and even online gaming opponents. Before you allow this activity, have a serious chat about what information they can share and what should remain confidential. Sensitive information that should never be shared over the internet includes the following:

• full names 
• addresses 
• birthdates 
• phone numbers 
• school information 
• passwords and PIN numbers 
• social insurance numbers  
• financial information  

Parents, take note: This goes for you, too. If you need to give out personal information, consider doing so by making a phone call or sending an encrypted email.  

Kids also need to know that they should only share photographs with those they know in real life and that those pics should never be sensitive in nature. 

Decide on an internet safety plan as a family 

In addition to discussing the dangers of the internet, it’s important to set healthy usage boundaries, too. While tech addiction has yet to be medically classified, experts do recognize that excessive internet use is a growing problem. According to a survey by Common Sense Media, 59 percent of the parents surveyed felt that their kids were “addicted” to their mobile devices. In addition, 27 percent of parents felt that they themselves were tethered to the internet. The Microsoft Family Safety App allows families to set and stick to screen time limits that apply to devices, as well as to specific apps and games. When the allotted time runs out, the main moderator can choose to add more time or not. 

Teach kids to be discerning about what they read and see 

Teaching kids to identify accurate information from reliable sources will help them become better internet users. We’re all guilty of searching a topic only to end up down an information rabbit hole (how often have you searched a symptom you or your child is experiencing only to scare yourself silly?). Teach kids about trustworthy media: this includes articles that show their sources, websites that have integrity mandates, and content that quotes pedigreed experts. User-generated content, forums and click-bait headlines should all be considered carefully.  

Also, it would do us all some good to remember that social media is usually the highlight reel. As soon as your kids join the world of social, they will no doubt compare themselves to their peers on the daily. Remind them that social media is highly filtered and edited. Encourage them to take breaks from their accounts when they’re feeling down or overwhelmed. And hey, Mom and Dad, you should take that advice, too. 

BONUS: Keep internet safety fun with the new Privacy Prodigy game from Minecraft Education 

To mark the 20th annual Global Safer Internet Day, Xbox rolled out a new immersive game-based learning experience called Privacy Prodigy, a continuation of the CyberSafe series from Minecraft Education, which is designed to help players from age 7-18 learn how to keep their personal data safe when they’re out in the world. Whether kids are learning how to keep data protected in public places or where to store data, this new game will challenge kids to help them (and their parents!) learn how to make more informed decisions about who should have access to their personal data and why. 

Privacy Prodigy is available in the Minecraft Education lesson library. If your family (or you!) play the Bedrock version of Minecraft at home, access Privacy Prodigy for free in the Minecraft Marketplace.

Sponsored by: Microsoft