Keeping Your Kids Safe on the Internet
Ultimately, it is a parental responsibility to keep children safe on the internet. Without parental controls and supervision, there are a host of circumstances that your child (even young children) can find themselves lured into. You don’t have to be a computer expert or on top of the technical world in order to keep your kids safe.
The first line of defense is of course supervision. Your child should always be supervised while on the computer. Allowing your child to have a computer in their room, spending endless hours doing who knows what is dangerous. They can be subject to alarming pop-ups and instant messaging that is NOT appropriate. Additionally, they can potentially leave your computer wide open for viruses. Remember that the average 8 year old knows more about the internet than their parents do. Set your parental controls. Whether you use Windows or Mac, it is quite easy to walk through the parental controls so that only safe websites for children can be accessed. Use a password and never allow your child to change them. Parental controls work.
The next way to keep your child safe on the internet is to keep them AWAY from your own social networking information. Your child doesn’t need to be on your Facebook page, where they can learn far too much information that is inappropriate. In fact, why parents allow children in elementary school to set up Facebook or My Space accounts is beyond comprehension. There is no need for socialization of this type at this early an age. And while most of these sites have age requirements, it is the parents who allow it. Try to avoid them for as long as possible.
The next thing to do is find some invaluable resources on the web yourself. Sites like www.netsmartz.org are specifically designed to help parents take preventive steps to make sure their child is not subject to cyber crime. www.safekids.com is also a great place to start. Even Microsoft has specific sections on their home site designed to give parents and children rules for internet safety. www.Bsecure.com can also manage your computer so that your children will never be victimized by a pornographic pop-up or attempts to contact them directly.
One of the problems with internet safety and children is that far too many parents don’t understand or see the danger. They allow their kids to Skype to keep in touch with family. They allow them to post pictures on Facebook. Take a look at www.guardchild.com or the FBI websites that handle cyber crime against juveniles and you will be horrified. Sadly, while the internet is great for many things – especially in keeping people connected, it also makes it far too easy for predators to connect with your child. And since the contact is online, children don’t feel threatened. But during this innocent conversation, they could be giving invaluable information away to predators about where you live, where your child attends school, etc.
Parents also need to be safe. Look at some of your online activity and you, like millions of others, are posting pictures of your children all over the internet. These pictures could be used inadvertently to spark the interest of a child predator. Be careful and smart. Predators are extremely smart, and they can extract information from your accounts in order to get in touch with your children. Remember that the key to internet safety at home is the parents. Once an incident has touched your life, you cannot take it back. It is best to be preventative and cautious at all times.