The internet can be a wonderful tool that enables kids to research the phenomena of the world, to learn about other cultures and to connect with family, friends and teachers.
It can also be a hotbed of lewd images, inappropriate language and aggressive computer viruses.
These tips will help you expose your children to the educational benefits and resources of the World Wide Web while protecting them from its dangers.
- Talk to your children about online safety. Remind them never to share personal information such as their full name, their age, their address or what school they go to with strangers. Help them create passwords and make sure they know never to share their passwords with anyone. Stress the importance of never agreeing to meet any online acquaintance in person.
- Prepare children for what they might accidentally encounter online. Despite our best efforts, sometimes things slip through that could be confusing or disturbing for your child. Having these discussions, as well as letting your child know you’re right there if he or she should need you, can help minimize any negative impact.
- Don’t put a computer in your child’s bedroom. Keep the family computer in a shared space where adults can easily keep an eye on what’s going on. You can monitor for inappropriate activity as well as step in if your child gets stuck or wanders into an area that might not be suitable for him or her.
- Use child-friendly search engines. Rather than letting your child roam the entire World Wide Web, choose an age-appropriate search engine designed just for kids. Most contain only hand-picked sites and many let parents make their own modifications.
- Use parental controls. Just as with television, there are filters you can use on your computer to block inappropriate content from reaching your child. Many of these features are built into Web browsers; if those controls aren’t strong enough, there’s software available to meet your needs.
- Know who your children are talking to. Children should only chat or IM with people they know in real life, not strangers they meet online. Make sure all of their social networking accounts are set to allow contact only from people in their contact lists.
- Set time limits. When it comes to surfing the Web or chatting with friends, some kids just don’t know when to stop. Make sure your child understands that homework comes first and then they can pursue their own interests for a specified time period.
- Create an online code of conduct. Especially with older kids, it’s important to let them know what’s acceptable in terms of the websites they visit, the types of activities they engage in and even the language they use. It’s much easier for kids to get carried away and do things they wouldn’t normally do in the anonymous world of cyberspace. Get our Online-Security-Agreement.pdf and teach it, learn it, and share it… Between Children and Parents!
- Periodically review your child’s online activities. As much as we may trust our children and hate to invade their privacy, for their safety it’s good to check their browsing history from time to time.
- Educate yourself and keep your education current. New dangers are constantly arising as technology evolves. Your kids have their homework; staying up to date on how to keep them safe online is yours.
About the author: Randall Davidson, a co-founder of the innovative audio transcription company AudioTranscription.Org, is committed to providing the public with useful tips for harnessing the positive powers of the internet, staying safe online and saving money.
He is a frequent contributor to the personal development series on his transcription company's blog. His company provides a variety of transcription services, including voice transcription, video transcription and oral history transcription, designed to save clients time and stress.
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