Nine Ways to Keep Your Child Safe on The Internet

by Rebecca Black on June 13, 2012

The Internet provides a wealth of information, entertainment and activities for individuals of all ages. For kids and teens, the Internet provides a great way to research for school projects and to explore the world around them. Unfortunately, there are many risks involved with going online. Some kids and teens fall victim to cyberbullies or encounter dangerous predators on the Internet.

It’s important that both parents and kids understand the importance of using caution and protecting their identities while online. Talking to kids and teens about Internet safety is a great way for parents to open up lines of communication. It’s also a great way for parents to establish basic safety rules and to ensure that their children can surf safely.

Kids who have talked to their parents about Internet safety generally feel comfortable letting their parents know when someone suspicious has contacted them via an online interface. They are also more likely to be open about their online activities. Keep these ten Internet safety tips in mind when preparing your kids for adventures on the Internet.

  1. Keep the computer in a high-traffic area of your home.

    It’s important for parents to establish limits and carefully monitor their children’s Internet usage. One of the best ways to do so is to keep the computer in a common room. Children and teens who have Internet access in their bedrooms may be more tempted to engage in risky behaviors or look at materials that you find inappropriate.

  2. Avoid giving away personal information online.

    This is possibly the most important rule that kids and teens can follow while online. Make sure your kids know that they should never give away information such as their full name, address, phone number, school name or birth date online. Tell your children that they shouldn’t even give this information to their friends online, as accounts can be hacked and strangers can access this data. If it is important for your child to provide this information to someone, oversee the exchange.

  3. Monitor buddy lists to be sure that only individuals you know in real-life are included.

    Many children enjoy chatting with their friends via online messaging services. While this activity is relatively harmless, some children fall prey to strangers who attempt to send them messages. Many such strangers pose a serious risk to children and may be predators. It’s important that parents check their children’s buddy lists frequently to be sure that no unknown individuals have been corresponding with their children. If you don’t know how to use messaging services, ask your child to show you. Spending time with your child on a messaging service is a great way to build understanding and trust.

  4. Avoid posting photos of yourself or sending photos to individuals you don’t know.

    Social networking sites, such as Facebook and MySpace, have made posting personal photos online seem completely normal. However, it’s a good idea to prohibit your children from posting personal photos of themselves. Predators often look for such photos. They may attempt to compliment your child to get on his or her good side. You should also prohibit your child from sending photos of him or herself to individuals that you don’t know. If your child wants to send a photo to a family member or close friend, do so from your own email account.

  5. Keep your plans to yourself.

    Many kids post information about where they are, what time they go to school and vacation plans online. Be sure that your kids know that doing so is a big no-no. Posting such information gives predators a way to get in touch with your children in the real world. It also alerts potential burglars that you will be away from your home.

  6. Make sure that you know your child’s online passwords.

    Parents have the right to know the passwords to their children’s online accounts and to check those accounts. While some parents may perceive this as an invasion of privacy, it’s important to ensure that your child is not corresponding with individuals that he or she does not know in real life. Monitor emails to be sure that your child isn’t giving away personal information. If you find something that concerns you, talk in a calm and straightforward fashion with your child.

  7. Don’t download from sites without parent permission.

    You can protect your children and your computer by ensuring that they don’t download from any sites without your permission. Carefully check out a site’s credibility before letting your child download any media, programs or games.

  8. Stay involved with your kids and monitor their activities.

    One of the best ways to ensure that your kids stay safe online is to stay involved in their lives. Monitor their online activities and talk to them frequently about Internet safety. The more involved you are, the more likely your child will feel comfortable talking to you about potential threats.

  9. Report any suspicious activities immediately.

    The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) offers a Cyber Tipline that can be utilized by parents who are concerned that their child has been contacted or harassed by a predator. The NCMEC forwards all tip information to law enforcement agencies. When possible, information is also forwarded to electronic service providers (ESPs), who can take action against individuals who are misusing the Internet in order to exploit children.

  10. Remember that people you encounter online aren’t always what they seem. Be sure to teach your children that appearances can be deceiving. It’s also a good idea to remind your children that the things they write and post online are permanent. Posts and photos can make a bad impression on employers and college admissions personnel, so it’s important to maintain a respectable online identity.

    Categories: Advice

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