It should not come as a surprise that our children are into anything technological, that is, PlayStation, X-Box, I-Pod, the Internet and the list goes on because after all these things are of their generation. It is simply in keeping with the norm of every generation that you will be able to limit what your child does.
The Internet brings the entire world into your home, and while there are many advantages to this, there are also disadvantages. Kids love the internet, but they tend to overdo or inadvertently find themselves in pages they did not intend. The following tips will help you keep your kid safe while online.
- Install parental software. The first and most important step is making sure you have some parental control software on your home computer. This will let you filter out the programs and the types of websites that you don’t want them using. It can also help you log every single website that your kids visit. Outside of just installing some software, it’s just as important for your children to understand why you’re doing this. They also need to be sure that they never reveal any personal information online like their phone number, where they attend school or home address. It’s the same as not taking a lift from a stranger but in an online setting.
- Know Computers. Many times I have heard older folks saying, “You cannot teach an old dog new trick,” about learning about computers. I do not know about that, but what I do know is, it is a good idea for everyone who has minors in their homes, who uses the Internet, to learn more about it. The idea of learning about computers and the Internet can be a bit intimidating, but the moment you get the hang of it, you would be wondering why you were so worried. You do not have to begin with a lump sum, take it a little at a time and, before you know it, you will have grasped all the basics. When you know the internet, it will be easier for you to understand what your child is doing when he/she is on it.
- Not Alone. Do not leave your child on the computer alone. This is not an issue of trust. It may be that your child is keeping in line with all the rules concerning using the Internet, but many times and without any warning useless information may make its way to her son’s vision. Therefore, by being there, you will be able to help your child bypass, block or close unwanted content.
- Password protection. Care should be exercised when storing passwords that are written down. Advise your child never to keep their passwords in their wallets, purses or backpacks. Storing them in folders on computers is also not safe because criminals tend to search there first. Passwords should never be sent via email or in response to a request in an email message. Public computers are best used for anonymous web browsing, and not for any activity that requires the use of a personal password. If the computer is not used by known and trusted individuals exclusively, personal details should be withheld from it.
- Blogging. If kids blog or journal online, much care should be taken as with social networking. Personal information should never be revealed. Parents should know the address of their children’s blog, intending to check it regularly. Research the blog hosting service. Do they offer password protected services? If there is any uncertainty about the safety of presenting a blog post to a total stranger, then that kind of information should not be posted online. Also, the same guidelines for sharing pictures apply.
- In Public Area. It is also a good idea to keep the computer in a public area like the living room. That is, somewhere that you will be able to see clearly what your child is doing when he/she is on it. Your bedroom, corridors or your child’s room is not okay. You won’t be able to supervise them. Keeping the computer in the open will help them abide by the rules by resisting the temptation to break the rules because mom or dad may look over at the computer when they least expect it.
- What They Are Doing. Get to know what your child is doing when he/she goes online. Is he playing free games on it, or perhaps she is on Facebook? Perhaps he is doing his homework, or maybe she is chatting with a friend. Let him/her not only to tell you what they are doing on it but get them also to show you what they are doing.
- Dangers. Kids also need to realize that the Internet isn’t exactly chock full of factual information. They can’t take it as gospel truth, and it’s important that they understand that from day one. Once they understand, they should ask you if they’re in doubt about something. Getting confirmation from you will keep them safe. Your kids are going to wind up using the chat room and chat/messenger programs – sooner or later. The same rules apply here regarding telling total strangers anything personal about themselves. Even more important is that they understand that they never, ever agree to meet anyone from chatrooms in real life. Having your kids know about netiquette, and online bullying is important too. Kids can be mean at times, and the ‘net has made bullying much easier for mean kids to do. Make sure your children know that they should come straight to you if they feel they’re being bullied.
All these may make your child scared of ever going online, but it’s your duty as a guardian to make sure they’re safe – even if it does mean scaring them just a tiny bit. Plus it’ll give you a chance to spend time working with them on understanding this and surely that time together is a good thing right