I have three children. My boys are 7 and 8 years old and rarely ever go online. My daughter, on the other hand, is 11 years old and already has a Facebook and an Instagram account she uses regularly. Of course I have all the passwords to her online accounts, including email, but that doesn’t take care of ‘surfing’ – and Googling something that turns up some not so kid friendly results…
Here are some Internet safety tips to follow:
1. Keep the family computer in your living room or other common area. Avoid allowing your child to keep their computer in their bedroom. Oh…and iPads are evil.
2. Set an amount of time they are allowed to spend online each day. This will depend on the age of the child and how much they might legitimately need the computer for school.
3. Talk to your child about the dangers of giving out personal information. If they have a profile on any social networking site, look over it to be sure there is no contact details. Encourage them to set their profile to private so that no unauthorized person can view it, and use a screen name instead of their own name.
4. Cyber-bullying is becoming a major problem, particularly for teenagers so if your teen mentions being bullied online, make sure that you take any reports of such behavior seriously.
5. Warn your child against sending pictures of themselves to strangers online. Make sure that they understand that people on the internet might not always be who they say they are.
6. Make sure that your child knows to get your permission before downloading or installing anything.
7. There are various types of blocking and filtering software available, such as Net Nanny, that can block access to certain types of site you might consider unsuitable.
8. Bookmark your child’s favorite sites so that they can access them easily.
9. You should spend some time on the sites your children regularly access, either with your child or alone. You will then be aware of the type of material available and of how other users of these sites can communicate with your child.
10. Know all passwords!
Do you allow your children online unsupervised?