When to Let Your Child Use the Internet Independently

While every child is different and parental expectations vary, we take a closer look at when it might be a good time to let your child use the internet independently.

Reports indicate that children and young people deserve equal chances of accessing the internet without any discrimination.

But there are chilling statistics too. About 80% of kids in 25 nations fear being sexually exploited online. And in thirty countries alone, a third of young people have reported being cyberbullied, resulting in one-fifth of them skipping school.

Given the potential danger and unknowns, it can be difficult to know when it’s a good time to let your child use the internet on their own. While every child is different and parental expectations vary, we take a closer look at when it might be a good time to let your child use the internet independently.

At What Age Should Your Child Browse Independently?

While the internet is readily available and is considered a necessity in many households, it’s essential to teach children how to browse safely and responsibly.

Generally speaking, pre-teen kids between the ages of 9 and 11 can surf the web on their own. But before you ditch those parental controls and rigorous content filters, certain guidelines are key.

Guidelines for Letting Your Child Surf the Web Independently

Nothing can replace the education you’ll give your child in line with online safety. Setting guidelines and teaching your child to use the internet wisely requires frequent monitoring, open discussions, and paying attention. Here are some additional tips:

Teach Them To Use Common Sense When Browsing

We all know how easy it is to get off track when browsing on the web. So while you should encourage your child to browse the internet independently, it’s also vital that they know how to spot an unsafe site or stay away from potential online predators.

If they use the internet for research or schoolwork, remind them that sites with a .gov or .edu extensions are typically safe and reputable.

Explain Privacy and Personal Information

From posting selfies to sharing some seemingly innocent details about themselves in a chat room, your child might be divulging more information about themselves than they should. Tell your child to watch out for what they share with strangers. Help them apply appropriate privacy and security settings. Explain how data could be collected by sites through programs like cookie tracking technologies.

Build a Reputable Online Image

We’ve all done things in our past that we find embarrassing or rather not revisit. It’s important that your children understand that the things they post on the internet will last forever. While your 10-year old isn’t likely thinking about their future when it comes to scholarships or careers, make sure they know they should never post something they wouldn’t say in real life.

Have Open and Frequent Discussions

Don’t spend all your time hovering over your child when they’re using the internet on their own. Give them some space and then allow them to talk about what they were searching for or what they found online. 

Whether they found something cool or something that made them feel uncomfortable, make sure your child knows they can (and should) share this information with you.

Talk to them openly about the apps, games, music, and other entertainment sites they enjoy. While it’s important to talk about all the things to avoid and the potential dangers of the web, let them share the things that excite them, too.

Reiterate Stranger Danger Online

Your child must know that even criminals infiltrate online spaces. Warn them that hackers can harm their families such as by stealing bank credentials and their parents’ identities.  

So, whatever they can’t do in the real world away from that screen, they shouldn’t do it online. No accepting gifts, emails, and friend requests from strangers as they could be malicious fakers.

Frequently Asked Questions

Maybe you’re still not sure if your child is ready to browse independently. Check out these commonly asked questions.

Should You Monitor Your Child Secretly?

If you expect to have open and honest conversations with your children, you might want to rethink surveillance apps. Otherwise, monitoring them from the shadows by some obscure app sends an indirect message of mistrust.

Which Age Group is Most at Risk?

Children of school-going ages between 6 to 8 could be at a higher risk than their younger counterparts. It’s at this age that they’re more likely to go online unsupervised. Even then, they might not be adept with fouls like cyber harassment, hacking, online identity theft, and phishing.

Final Thoughts

As long as your child fully understands potential online risks and internet safety tips, the age isn’t cast on stone. While experts agree that the ideal age for children to start browsing online independently is between 9 and 11, do what feels right for you and your family. 


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