Keeping Kids Safe on the Internet
It's inevitable that kids will end up using the internet - either at home, at school, or both. While it's potentially a fantastic tool for research and information, it can also be a two-way portal: it can bring harmful images and ideas to children, and it can enable them to share private information with strangers. Following you will find some suggestions for keeping kids safe online.
The Importance of Safe Search
Most of us use Google or Yahoo search on a regular basis, and that means our children (whether in the home or at school) are probably using those search engines too. You probably know that they both have a "Safe Search" feature that filters out adult-oriented websites and images. This option should always be turned on in homes where children are searching online.
Some people have created apps that give children a customized search engine that has screened results. Those can be great especially when searching on an iPad or iPhone.
Filtering Programs for Your Computer
If you would like to take additional steps to ensure your child's safety online, you'll need a filtering program. There are many available; most quality ones provide you with a lot of options, including what hours of the day the internet can be accessed, as well as generating reports that show all the websites visited. You can know exactly where your kids, their friends, the babysitter, and anyone else is going while using your computer. It's a fantastic way to protect your family, and most are relatively inexpensive.
The rise of social media has given kids places to go online where they can interact with friends and play games. A lot - maybe most - of what takes places at these sites, especially Facebook, is good. But there is some bad.
Children can be solicited by strangers online, or asked to reveal personal information, or be exposed to harmful or inappropriate content. What's a parent to do?
- It's up to parents to monitor all of their child's online activity, and make sure that there are some simple rules in place. These can include: never giving out personal information online, and never meeting anyone in person that you meet online.
- If your child has an account at a social networking site, create your own page and add them as a "friend". Browse through some of their friends' pages to get an idea of who they're communicating with online. Let them know that you'll be coming by their page every so often. Occasionally leave your child a positive comment about an accomplishment, or just to let them know how proud you are of them.
- This one is mentioned a lot, but it bears repeating: keep your computers out in well-trafficked areas; don't let your child have a computer in his or her bedroom.
Using the Internet Wisely
The internet can seem like a scary place, but it can also be a fantastic place to learn and socialize. From a very early age, kids can be taught certain basic principles about internet safety. Parents are the most important line of defense between their children and predators on the internet - putting safeguards in place shouldn't be optional. If parents put lots of time and energy into monitoring their child's internet activity, the internet can be a helpful learning tool for children of all ages.
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