10 Tips for Internet Safety for Kids
Children can reap many benefits from exploring the Internet, but may also encounter various risks, Once parents start practicing these Internet safety tips, they can help protect their children while allowing them to use the Internet as a tool for learning.
10 Internet Safety Tips
1.Park the computer in the family room. Instead of letting your child have a computer in her own room, keep a family computer in an open, family area. Sheppard suggests setting ground rules and putting a password on the computer itself so that your child can't use it without your permission.
2.Know your child's passwords. "Consider requiring that your child shares his or her password with you when setting up e-mail accounts, Facebook, [and so on]," says Sheppard. Make sure that your child uses the privacy settings on sites like Facebook and MySpace so that only people she knows and trusts can view the account, and tell her not to "friend" anyone online who she doesn’t know.
3.Set parental controls on the computer. Various types of software are available to prevent kids from visiting inappropriate Web sites on the Internet. "Control your settings through your Internet provider if they offer those services," suggests Sheppard.
4.Teach children about Internet dangers in an age-appropriate way. The Internet, says Sheppard, “opens children up to Internet predators who can cross over into real life where children become victims." Explain to young children that there are strangers on the Internet and, just like when they're in a public place, they should be wary of people who approach them. Older children should be made aware of the real dangers of Internet predators — explain what predators are and what could happen if they're not careful.
5.Establish rules about revealing personal information. They shouldn’t talk about where they live, where they go to school, or even give away information like their birth date, the time zone they live in, or their school's colors or mascot, says Sheppard. Explain how they must avoid exposing any financial information that can be financially devastating for the family. These are all types of information that must never be posted or shared in any chat room, via any instant messaging service, or on any social networking site like Facebook or MySpace.
6.Make sure children do not post photos. It's far too easy for predators to get hold of those photos. They should never post pictures of themselves on social networking sites, e-mail them to online friends, or share them through instant messaging. "What goes online may stay online forever," notes Sheppard.
7.Monitor your child's activity on the Internet. This includes any charges a child may make to a credit card, any downloads, and Web sites the child has visited. The “history” tab allows you to see where your child has been surfing and what she has been doing.
8.Teach your kids how to surf safely. This involves explaining what they should do if they encounter an inappropriate Web site, says Sheppard. Make sure they know what sites to stay away from so that they don't see inappropriate content. You might also want to block online chat rooms so that your child can't "meet" potentially dangerous strangers.
9.Warn about the dangers of in-person meetings with online friends. You never know who could be impersonating a "friend" online, so Sheppard suggests making sure that your child understands these dangers and never agrees to meet any online buddy in person without discussing it with and getting the permission of a parent.
10.Set up your own account on social networking sites. If you want to know what sites like Facebook and MySpace are like, set up your own accounts, Sheppard suggests. "Parents need to learn about the mediums their children are using online," she says. "Use them so you know the potential issues your kids could face."
If your kids come to you with a problem they've experienced on the Internet, be thankful that they are being honest and open with you. "Don’t overreact if there is an issue — deal with it calmly and talk with them about how to handle the same situation in the future," says Sheppard.
And one more caution: Your home computer isn’t the only one your kids come into contact with. Know what kinds of protection are on the computers in the homes of your kids’ friends and elsewhere. Remember that not all parents are parenting in the same way.