(NC) If you’re still amazed at how your five-year-old can work a tablet better than you can, you’re not alone. Being online is an essential part of kids’ lives, extending beyond entertainment and social activities into school and extracurricular activities. But parents often worry that social media comes with a host of risks like scams, theft, and cyberbullying.

Some parents may want to pull the plug altogether at the thought of their kids facing those dangers, but rather than cutting children off from the rich online world, there are ways you can help protect them. GetCyberSafe.ca informs Canadians about internet security and the simple steps they can take to protect themselves online and recommends the following tips:

1. Make sure protection features like antiviruses and parental controls are installed and activated on your children’s devices.

2. Get to know the online environments your children use and teach them how to deal with anything that might make them uncomfortable, like mean comments or mature content.

3. Talk to your kids about the implications of posting inappropriate pictures, saying negative things about other people, and anything else that could damage a reputation or ruin a friendship.

4. Keep an eye on the sites they’re visiting by keeping the computer in a common area like the kitchen, or setting designated areas for tablet and laptop use like the living room.

5. Educate young ones about the risks of using a webcam and sharing photos and videos. Don’t wait until they’re older to have this discussion — if they’re old enough to be online, they’re old enough to know general information about the dangers.

6. If your child is using live text and voice chats for online games, warn them not to share personal information like where they live or what school they go to.

7. Speak with your child regularly about what they do online and assure them that you will help them resolve any issues. A child or teenager will be less likely to admit something has happened if they believe that the computer or device they are using will be taken away, especially when it comes to issues like cyberbullying.

Staying informed about online risks is the best way to avoid them. Learn more at GetCyberSafe.ca.

www.newscanada.com