The Importance of Internet Safety for Kids

The best way to ensure internet safety for kids is to begin right in the home and look at what you, the parent, can do to increase online safety for your kids. The following tips are provided to help you keep your children safe when they use the internet.

If you want to find out what your child does online, start by asking. You can ask friends who are internet savvy, or speak with other parents or your child. Ask them what they use the internet for, but keep in mind that asking the right kind of questions can help you evaluate how your child is using the internet and whether or not they are making safe choices when they are online.

Questions every parent should ask their child

What websites do you like to go to?

Why are those sites of interest to you?

What activities do you participate in when you visit those sites?

When you visit one of these sites, how much time do you usually spend there?

Does the site require you to register or become a member?

If you have to register, what kind of information do they ask for?

When registering, what specific information have you provided?

Take some time and actually surf the internet with your child. Supervising your child and watching them as they surf the web can be a wonderful way to gain insight into the type of interactions your child may be involved in, it also helps you to learn who they are interacting with.

Communicate

Once you understand more clearly how your child is using the internet and the types of sites that are available to them, establishing firm rules and guidelines will be much easier. You will probably want to establish clear boundaries for which sites are permissible for your child to visit as well as what activities they can engage in online. Clearly communicating these rules with your child is essential to their online safety.

Talk frequently with your child regarding the various risks they may face online and how to handle various types of situations that may arise. Your child should be encouraged to come to you and ask questions whenever they run into a situation they are unsure how to handle. Speaking often with your child about the risks and dangers of internet usage and how they can best protect themselves will help them develop responsibility and better judgement when it comes to their usage of the internet.

Safety Rules

There is no doubt that the internet provides an abundance of opportunities for education, entertainment, connectivity and many other possibilities. However, anyone who uses the internet needs to have an understanding of basic online safety. It is essential that parents teach these basics to their children.

When friends or strangers, either offline or online, ask about your accounts, never share passwords or account IDs.

When choosing screen names, never use anything that would reveal personal information, such as something relating to your hobbies, school, birthday or home town.

When interacting online, whether it is in an online chat, email or other form, never provide personal information about either yourself or another person.

Never share pictures of yourself, your home or your family with people you have met online.

If you receive an email from an unknown source, immediately delete it without opening.

If you receive threatening or mean comments online, it is best to not respond. Log off immediately and report the incident to your parents.

Keep in mind that there is never anything you write online that is completely private. Always use caution regarding what you write as well as to whom you write.

Never agree to an in-person meeting with a friend you have met online.

When in doubt be sure to ask for help from your parents. If you are unsure what to do in a situation, log off the internet.

Cyber Bullies

The online community or environment is much like the real-world in the fact that you can encounter aggressive or bullying behavior.

This so-called cyber bullying can be in the form of cruel and hurtful words as well as images.

Cyber bullies may use the internet or other types of electronic devices like cell phones as a way to humiliate, embarrass, harass or even threaten their intended target. Other types of bullying can include hacking passwords, blackmail or identify theft.

Many kids are vulnerable to becoming victims or even bullies themselves. While some cyber bullies prefer to remain anonymous, they are usually kids who a child knows from a community group, camp, their neighborhood or even from school.

It is extremely important that you are able to talk openly with your children regarding the issues of cyber bullying. If your child is ever the target of cyber bullying, it is important to keep in mind that these bullies generally thrive on being able to get a reaction out of their target. Teach children to refrain from responding to the taunts of a bully so that they can avoid having the situation escalate. If the problem continues, parents should contact their local law enforcement authorities. Be sure that you keep all messages received including the time and date when they were sent.

Resources

Today, even very young children are experiencing the benefits of the internet. They often begin as toddlers on their parents laps however, as they get older they generally start to venture online with minimal parental supervision.

Every parent needs to make the decision regarding how much control to place on their child and when their child is mature enough to ease up on these measures. Here are some helpful resources that can help you formulate responsible internet usage in your child

Many sites have a guide designed just for parents. Look through the guide and make sure that the sites approach to internet safety is reasonable for your child's age.

Some websites offer a variety of parental controls. You can use these controls to determine which features of the site your child will be able to access.

Most browsers can be set to block specific websites or even entire domains. You can use these controls in order to pre-select sites you children are allowed to visit or those you want blocked.

Research the various types of software designed to monitor a child's internet usage.

Visit the sites your child enjoys and review their privacy policies. Be sure you understand what type of information the site is collecting about your child as well as how this information is used.

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