How to Raise Children in a Computer Age

Computer Safety for Children

Forget the question whether you know what your teenager is doing on the internet... do you know what your preschooler is doing on the computer ? Personal computers (or PCs) have changed substantially in the past 25-30 years, coming down in price, size and increasingly portable. Its not unusual for a family to have 3-4 PCs, all of which may be fired up at the same time.

Parental monitoring of children's computer usage is critical for a number of reasons. Not only is there the chance that they could click on an inappropriate site, but child predators change tactics frequently to avoid detection. Your child could be a victim without your even knowing it.

Even seemingly "safe" people could pose a problem on some of the popular social networking sites, like Facebook and MySpace. Visitors may lie about their age and identity, with dangerous consequences.

Child safety on the computer
Child safety on the computer | Source
2003 Statistics Regarding Computer Usage Among Kids
2003 Statistics Regarding Computer Usage Among Kids

What Can you do as a Parent to Encourage Child Safety on Computers?

First of all, know what your child knows. Are they internet-savvy? Do they have their own computer at home and/or school? Make sure that you keep an eye on where they are surfing and making sure that school instruction is supervised so that your child does not wander off to an inappropriate site. The best filters in the world cannot take place of your own personal monitoring.

Also, realize that handheld devices like iPods and iPhones are computerized devices, and your child may download inappropriate videos and songs to them, as well as surf the internet from them. Learn how to use these popular devices and decide whether your child is mature enough to have one.

Second, it is best to place computers in your home in a public area so that you will be walking through on a regular basis. If the computer screen is not hidden, then your child may be less likely to go to inappropriate sites, out of curiosity or request. Laptops in bedrooms may not be your best bet...

Third, install filters on your computers. Research and install the best and most effective ways to keep children away from inappropriate sites, and predators away from your kids. Test the filters by running sample searches to make sure that they are catching what you believe to be offensive material in your home.

Using a computer in public areas is safer for children
Using a computer in public areas is safer for children | Source

Talk to Your Kids About Computer and Internet Safety - Frequently!

Just as children are instructed not to talk to strangers in the "real world," you need to have safety discussions with your kids about cyberspace danger. The basic rules are:

  • Don't give out your real name
  • Don't give out your age
  • Don't give out your address - including your city and state!
  • Don't give out your telephone number
  • Don't believe everything you read!

If your child is using facebook, the settings can be established so that only "friends" can see personal information (note that the minimum age for Facebook is 13 years old). Kids should be careful about who they invite as "friends." These people should only be actual people with whom your child has a connection at school or in extracurricular activities.

Have an ongoing discussion with your kids about the sites that they visit and make sure that they feel comfortable about discussing any issues with you that have given them concern. If they play online computer games, set limits on the amount of time spent at the sites, and remind them that it is only a game! You may find that talking to a school age child is easier than to a teenager. But, if you establish a good computer-savvy relationship when your child is in elementary school, it may continue through the teenage years.

Remember that you are the parent! You can and should set rules, and know where your kids are going, not only in the real world, but also in cyberspace. It can be daunting as technology advances at lightening speed and new gadgets come out each year. Nonetheless, its imperative that you educate yourself to be the best protector and guardian of your child!

Are your kids safe on the computer?
Are your kids safe on the computer? | Source

Comments 13 comments

penmanzee 8 years ago

Right on the mark Steph. I was horrified to find how much stuff my 1o-year old had downloaded off the internet. Wish I had run into this advice earlier.


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 8 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Thank you! I am working hard to get my 8 and 10 year old kids to respect limits and talk to me about sites they visit!


PenmanZee profile image

PenmanZee 8 years ago

Good for you. You have a heads up.


topstuff profile image

topstuff 8 years ago

All is good for better care of children.Good instructions for parents,though they are not for me.


In The Doghouse profile image

In The Doghouse 8 years ago from California

Such important issues you have discussed here. I totally agree that monitoring is absolutely needed when it comes to the internet. Having a computer in a public spot instead of the privacy of their own rooms is essential too. Thanks for bringing an important issue to our attention.


amy jane profile image

amy jane 8 years ago from Connecticut

Very useful information here, Steph. I'm not really looking forward to dealing with this, but I know it is coming soon :)


Peter M. Lopez profile image

Peter M. Lopez 8 years ago from Sweetwater, TX

Sage advice.


Rudra profile image

Rudra 8 years ago

Raising children is the hardest thing in the world, take it from me. There are so many stories that breaks my heart.I agree that there should be a dedicated study with a computer in it and not in their rooms.


Ashley Joy profile image

Ashley Joy 7 years ago

Great hub. The internet is a great place to learn and grow but we do as parents need to monitor the activity of our children.


Butch45 profile image

Butch45 6 years ago

Hi Steph great hub I gave it a thumbs up. I am also making hubs on computer safety and child safe gps. I am affiliate for a different company though and a bit different line of products but. Any child safety is good with me.I also agree with your idea of keeping your line of communication with your children going you will see great results with this. I am still raising two and have four moved out. The communication is your greatest ally.


belliott profile image

belliott 6 years ago

Great advise. It is amazing how fast technology has changed and how young the kids are picking up on it. My 5 year old grandson has a Nintendo DS and I am amazed at how fast he masters the new games he gets. I can only imagine what he will be able to accomplish on a computer when he's older. I agree with your advise. Open communication, parental oversight and software filters are important where children and computers are concerned. As you pointed out, it's not only the computers now but cell phones can also access the internet.


Parental Monitoring 6 years ago

Although your kids’ best online protection is you, and by talking to them about potential online dangers and monitoring their computer use, you’ll help reduce the risk while they surf the Internet. Using some form of keystroke or parental monitoring tool can be seen by some as an invasion of your child’s privacy, but many parents are turning to this style of technology knowing the severity and risk regarding on-line predators.


Kid Computers 5 years ago

Whether we like it or not, our children are growing up using computers and eventually it will become an everday part of their lives. its important that we educate children in this area so they have an advancement when they get older and need to actually put their skills to work. Im constantly upgrading my products to improve the learning ability of children! check out my computers and software and let me know what you think: http://kidcomputers.com

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