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Internet Safety Tips for Kids

Submitted by on August 25, 2017 – 6:53 amNo Comment

Internet Safety for Kids

Internet Safety for Kids

It is easy to be so busy thinking about protecting your children in the real world that you don’t spend enough time thinking about how to protect them on online. Although the Internet offers many opportunities for education and entertainment for both kids and adults, it also presents a number of risks and challenges. For example, it is not uncommon for people to share personal details without realizing the serious risks associated with giving out contact information so it’s important to keep Internet safety in mind.

With a wide range of potential dangers, from cyber bullying to sexually explicit content, the Internet can be overwhelming when trying to protect your kids online. You don’t want to go overboard, yet it is important to take an active role in your children’s online experience and be available to answer their questions and concerns. The following tips will assist you with this process.

Set guidelines and stick to them.

One of the most effective methods to protect your kids online is to be open and honest with them and to set reasonable, appropriate rules for their Internet usage. No single set of rules works for every family. For example, some people may feel comfortable setting up the family computer in the living room, especially when they have young children in the house. Other people are more comfortable setting it up in a location that offers more privacy. Communicate all guidelines for computer use and Internet safety clearly and stick to them.

Block inappropriate content.

Take the time to preview websites and other programs that your children use, such as video games with online play and live chat features. Staying informed helps you understand the risks associated with specific sites and programs so you are prepared to talk to your children about these more effectively. Pay special attention to any sites that collect personal information, such as addresses and phone numbers. If you aren’t happy with a particular site, seek alternative options.

Microsoft offers a number of ways to block inappropriate content. The newest versions of Windows come with parental control features that allow parents to monitor and manage computer use to keep their kids safe. A number of devices with built-in Wi-Fi, such as the Xbox, also come with parental controls.

Increase security and privacy.

There are a number of different ways to block sites and downloads that may present privacy and security risks, including the following:

  • Limit downloads. Many downloads, including games and music, render a computer susceptible to spyware and other harmful software. Talk with older children and teenagers about the risks of downloading content from unknown sources. When in doubt, best practice is to have adults approve sites before kids download anything.
  • Create multiple user accounts. The newest versions of Windows allow multiple accounts for a single computer. This feature gives parents the ability to create limited-use accounts for their kids. These do not allow changes to system settings or the installation of new hardware or software.
  • Adjust web browser security settings. Many popular web browsers come with security and privacy controls. Among other functions, you can assign security levels to specific websites to ensure that your children are viewing only appropriate content.

Monitor Internet activity.

Obviously, parents cannot be with their children every time they go online. However, you can check Internet activity later by reviewing the history list in the web browser your children use. The parental controls available in the newest versions of Windows also help you monitor Internet usage.

Have regular family discussions about Internet rules.

Both adults and children may need regular reminders about appropriate Internet conduct. Keep general discussions light and friendly so that children do not feel smothered or accused. Remind family members about best practices on the Internet, such as only using first names with strangers, never giving out contact information to unsecure sites, never sending photos to strangers, and never agreeing to meet someone you met on the Internet in a non-public location. Some families find it beneficial to post Internet guidelines near the computer as a gentle reminder for everyone who goes online.

Make sure that children know that if they ever feel uncomfortable about anything online, from a questionable website to a creepy stranger, they should talk to you. Since kids may hide information out of a fear of getting in trouble, let them know that you are concerned about their safety and well-being above everything else.

Erica L. Fener, Ph.D., is Vice President, Business Development Strategy and Analysis at Progressus Therapy, a leading provider of school-based therapy, early intervention services, and occupational therapy career opportunities.

 

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