As a parent, it is important for you to educate yourself on the latest online threats, establish rules and discuss safety practices in order to educate your kids about safe Internet use. Teenagers are particularly at risk because they mostly get online unsupervised and are more likely than younger kids to participate in online activities.

Establish general rules
Set reasonable rules and guidelines for computer use for your kids, discuss the rules and post them near the computer to remind them.

  • Encourage your kids to share their internet experience with you
  • If they visit chat rooms, use instant messaging, play online games or other activities that require a login name to identify themselves, help them to choose a name that doesn’t reveal any personal information about themselves.
  • Tell your kids not to give out any identifiable information such as their name, home address, telephone number, school name or even detailed information of their whereabouts.
  • Tell your kids that not everything they read or see online is true. Encourage them to ask you if they’re not sure.
  • Make sure your kids know never to meet anyone they met online face-to-face without talking with you about the situation.
  • Teach your kids good ethics while on the internet and always be polite.

Decide where your kids can or can’t go on the internet

  • Create different computer accounts for your kids and password protect it.
  • Control your kids’ online activities by using parental control software to filter out inappropriate content, monitor the sites they visit and try to find out what they do.
  • Limit their “screen time” on the internet. For example, Windows operating system offers parental control capability to restrict your kids’ computer usage.

Increase your security and privacy

  • Educate yourself on current online threats to kids, such as cyber bullying, sexting, child pornography, online scams, etc.
  • Minimize your kids’ exposure on the Internet by educating them about online predators and imposters.
  • Block inappropriate content before your kid accidently sees it by using parental control software.
  • Use antivirus and anti-spyware programs to help detect harmful viruses, worms and any other unwanted software.
  • Adjust internet browser settings to help you control your browser security and privacy.

Stay involved with your kids’ online activities

  • Monitor your kids’ activities on the internet; always check who they are chatting with, what types of games they play, etc.
  • Learn their internet habits and monitor what they like to do online.
  • Occasionally spend time with your kids while they are on the internet and guide them when they need help.

Teach your kids about social networking safety
These days, kids actively use social networking sites designed for adults such as Windows Messenger, YouTube, MySpace, Flickr, Twitter, Facebook and others. Parents should help their kids understand that social networking sites can be viewed by anyone with internet access, thus the information they publish can make them exposed to scams, phishing, cyber bullying and internet predators.

  • Tell your kids never to post any photographs without your permission and never reveal too many details in pictures.
  • Tell your kids they should never meet online friends in person. Explain to them that online friends may not always be who they say they are.
  • Communicate with your kids about their experience. Advise them to inform you if anything they see on the internet makes them feel uncomfortable, anxious or threatened.
  • Warn your kids about expressing their emotions to strangers. Educate your kids that online predators often search out emotionally defenceless kids.
  • Warn your kids about cyber bullying. Tell them that if they think they’re being cyber bullied, they should share this information with you or a teacher.

Teach your kids about blogging safety
If your kids blog about themselves, educate them on the risks of sharing detailed personal information.

  • Establish rules for your kids’ online use.
  • Assist your kids in planning what to write on their blog.
  • Pay attention to what your kids write and try to check out other blogs to find positive examples.
  • Save the web address of your kid’s blog and visit it frequently.

Tags: Keeping Children Safe Online