Basics of Internet Safety
The Internet has drastically changed the way that children interact with the world. They now have access to in-depth knowledge, tools to express their creativity, and people from all over the world. Yet along with offering a fascinating, new way to connect with the world, the Internet can also be dangerous.
As a parent you should stay well-informed about what your child is experiencing on the Internet. If they are social networking, instant messaging, using webcams, or blogging, help them learn to use these tools safely by learning how to use them yourself. Children whose parents and guardians regularly talk to them about personal safety are more likely to exhibit responsible behavior on their own. Learn about your child’s online life. Then be intentional about talking regularly about the need for safety in all facets of web useage.
Basics of Internet Safety
Communicate with your child. Talk about what’s appealing and what’s dangerous. Discuss what she’s doing online and why. Set rules and talk about them. Then keep talking as she grows. If she feels comfortable with these conversations, she is more likely to let you know when she runs into an on-line problem.
Set safety standards.
Limit useage. Permit your child to have free online time for, say 30 minutes, right after school to instant-message friends, play games, or visit social network sites, but make it a rule that family time starts with dinner and after dinner the computer is used only for homework.
Keep the computer in a high-traffic area of the home. In other words, keep kids in sight. Your child is less likely to browse questionable content if she knows Mom or Dad might walk by at any second. This helps you monitor time spent online and chosen activities, and resultant behavior.
Do your homework. Check her browser history to know where your child goes online and check the sites regularly. Use security tools and privacy features – whether offered by your browser on Internet service provider, or purchased separately – for extra protection.
Know your kid’s favorites.
Become aware of what your kids love to do online – and what risks go along with the rewards.
Here are the most popular:
Communicating and social networking. Online communication consists primarily of email, instant messaging (iMs), chat rooms, and journals or Web logs (blogs). On networking sites such as Facebook, kids can create Web profiles, and then invite others to view and become online buddies. Your child may use these media to share gossip, exchange photos, make weekend plans, find out about missed assignments, connect over common interests, and express opinions.
What to know: One out of every five kids gets sexual solicitations online. Strangers, predators, and cyber-bullies all target children, and their work is simplified when screen names reveal age, gender, or hometown. If posts aren’t marked as “private,” personal information can be displayed to an unrestricted audience of readers.
What to do: Know who your child talks to online. Review her buddy list, does she really know everyone or are some buddies “friends of friends” whom she hasn’t met in person? Tell her not to exchange personal information like a phone number, address, best friend’s name or picture. No party invitations, revealing details, or meeting in person – ever.
Web surfing: Kids can explore new interests, check to see if a library book is available, or find a recipe for the class party in valuable resources such as online encyclopedias, newspapers, and periodicals.
What to know: Surfing the Web without restrictions can mean encountering pop-up ads, viruses, erroneous information, and inappropriate content. The ease of pasting and cutting means that plagiarism is a real concern. And time flies online! Kids can click from one site to another until bedtime (or beyond), if you let them.
What to do: Set a code of conduct and time limits. Keeping kids safe means setting guidelines about suitable language, content, and behavior. While it is important to direct your child to suitable websites, it’s even more valuable to help her recognize the redeeming qualities of those sites, so she can surf safely on her own. Critique content. Help your child think critically about the content she reads and sees. Encourage her to check facts, etc.
Excerpted from Keeping Kids Safe Online at scholastic.com.
Other websites with safety tips:
- Commonsense.com for age-by-age tips