Many parents are concerned with how to keep the Internet safe for their children. The proper way to enforce rules online varies based on the age of the child. It is important to understand that monitoring Internet usage is not an invasion of a child’s privacy. Here are eight ways to keep your kids safe online.
1. Be open about online safety.
Just as parents would not allow their child to talk to strangers in person without supervision, parents should take the same caution when dealing with their child’s Internet usage, especially with younger and middle-aged children.
2. Create passwords and limitations.
There are many ways in which parents can create passwords to limit the use of computers or certain programs. Parents can use programs which will create time limits or prohibit visits to certain websites.
3. Monitor their time on the Internet.
Kids are spending increasing amounts of time online. Parents should set limits to avoid excessive usage of the Internet that takes away from other important activities.
4. Restrict the location of use of the device.
Psychologist Lee Hausner believes that computers should be located in an area of the home where anybody can walk by at any time and have a sense of what is going on. Middle-aged children should not be allowed to use the Internet unsupervised, and older children should be thoroughly educated on the dangers of interacting with strangers online.
5. Explain what defines a stranger.
Theresa M. Payton is a national cyber security expert who helps parents understand the relationship that children in this time have with the Internet and how to set boundaries for safe and cautious use of the Internet. Payton believes it is important to define the idea of “a stranger” because young people on the Internet may not take the safety precautions that they would normally take in person. It is important because many children will consider that in an online situation, a friend of a friend on an online platform is not a stranger.
6. Enact the “Grandmother Rule.”
Payton also suggests using the grandmother approach just as it would be used in the traditional sense- children should not post anything online that they would not want their grandmother to see.
7. Educate on cyber-bullying.
Cyber-bullying is a growing concern among parents and they should teach their children the appropriate way to act online. If they wouldn’t say it to them in person, then they shouldn’t say it to them online.
8. Discover educational and appropriate websites.
There are many websites that will help your child to learn and grow. Encourage them to visit these websites to help them learn while they are on the Internet.
Teaching children and teens to act safely online is a collaborative and ongoing effort that will change as the child ages and becomes more independent.