Guidelines for Safe Computer Use at Home

There once was a time when computers took up an entire room. Now, every household has at least one. If you have computers (desktops and laptops) in your home and the kids have access to them implement a few guidelines to keep them safe while on the Internet.

Everyone in your household values their privacy. If you have teenagers this is most likely a big issue for you now. When it comes to online communication, their privacy will always take a back seat to their safety when they are in control. You lock your home’s door against predators, but unfortunately these slimy thieves have found another way to get in – your computer.

How can you protect your kids when they are online just like you do inside your home? Here are 5 ways to make computer time for your children safe and give you some much needed peace of mind too.

1. Communicate with your children. This is one of the main lines of defense against child predators. Open communication creates an atmosphere of trust in the home. You explain that the Internet can be dangerous and that certain safeguards are set up for your child’s protection. This doesn’t mean overreacting if they slip up. Kids are curious and these times are to be expected and dealt with appropriately.

2. Keep computers in a common area. When a child is using the computer behind bedroom doors it is harder to monitor what they are seeing and doing. In the family room or den, you can walk by or be in the same room while they are online. If a computer is allowed in the bedroom for school work, the door must remain open while they are using it. Usually this little nugget keeps most kids from viewing explicit pages out of curiosity since they know their parents might be watching.

3. Set up parental controls on your computer. Kids of all ages know how to use the Internet now. Parental controls stop them from accessing pages that have potential adult content on them. You can also use install software that such as McGruff Safeguard, ContentBarrier X4, and KaZipster to monitor their time online and prevent the sending, and/or receiving, of explicit material and personal information.

4. Teach kids not to send personal information to others. Some websites ask kids to enter personal information to sign up for contests or just to use the website like social sites. Giving out any information about yourself can lead a predator to your front door. It could be a setup to gain access to your child. Your kids should ask you before filling out any questionnaires or forms online that require such information.

5. Filter email accounts. Email is a common way for sending pornographic or other non-kid friendly messages. Let your kids add their friends’ email addresses to their address book, but block all others. This will keep them from opening emails from people they don’t know and seeing things that they shouldn’t.

Online safety begins at home. What your kids learn from you will help to keep them safe and online savvy even when away from home.

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