How to Protect Your Children Online Without Being Annoying
The internet can be a wonderful source of information and entertainment for children. As soon as a child is old enough to punch a few letters on the keyboard they can literally have the whole world at their fingertips. Having such access, however, can also pose great hazard to your child if not handled responsibly.
Keeping your child safe online can be quite a difficult feat. Particular since many of our children know more about maneuvering the information super highway than us parents. It is important for parents to be aware of what their children are doing online. This includes what they see and hear on the internet, who they talk to, and what information they give out online. Many children complain, however, regarding some of the tactics used to control and prohibit their internet activity. One common complaint, for example, is the use of site blockers. These quite often block legitimate sights that can be useful for research and information. The American Cancer Society for example is quite often blocked by these programs due to its usage of words such as “breasts.”
Online Safety Tips for Kids
The truth is that most online experiences are positive. There are some risks, however, that every parent should be aware of. The world is full of a wide variety of people, and the internet is no exception. Though children receive great benefit from the internet, they can also be the target of crime, cyberbullying, and exploitation. A few simple guidelines are essential to ensuring your child’s experiences in cyberspace are happy ones.
- Talk to your children about both the benefits and the dangers of the internet. Arming your children with knowledge is key to ensuring their safety in many situations and this includes online. Teach your children to be cyber smart. Don’t just tell them what not to do, but also tell them why not to do it. Hiding the dangers of the internet will not protect your children from them. Uncovering them just might.
- Balance privacy with parenting. Children need a certain level of privacy, particularly as they get older. They also need parental involvement and supervision in their lives. While it is not necessary to stand over your child’s shoulder while they are online, it is important to have a presence. . Consider keeping the computer in a family room rather than your child's bedroom.
- Set reasonable rules for computer use. Discuss the rules and post them near the computer as a reminder.
- Install computer security, but research it first. In addition to have features that are subpar and highly annoying, some security programs will not provide you with the security you really need. Do your research, learn what features will benefit you the most, and then make your purchase. A good program will protect your computer from spyware, pop-ups, viruses, and other threats. Some even have parental controls that can be quite useful. Find a program that blocks sites that are known to be inappropriate. The “smarter” the program, the less likely it will annoy the children as well as the adults in the family. Make sure you keep your program up to date to make sure you remain protected.
Internet Safety Software
- Don’t keep secrets. There are several programs that will allow a parent to log chats, emails, etc. If you choose to make use of these, let your child know. The goal of internet safety is not to catch your child doing something wrong, but to protect them. Letting them know may actually deter any questionable conversations or behaviors.
- Keep the lines of communication open. If your child’s internet activities have become cause for concern, talk to them about it. Again, explain internet safety and why it is important. Be available to your child if something upsetting happens online. Don’t assign blame if something happens, instead use this as teachable moment. Reiterate the rules and educate your child on the dangers of the internet. Once your child understands the dangers they may become quite useful in developing safety guidelines for themselves as well as the other family members.