Most children of the twenty-first century have been familiar with computers for their entire lives. Whether they use the Internet in school as a part of their daily learning or at home to blow off steam with the games available online, the Internet is an essential part of the lives of tweens and teens. Keeping children safe while they surf is an important concern of parents. Communication, staying current with technology and installing parental controls can all be employed to ensure Internet safety for children.
Communicate With Your Kids
Communicate with your kids about the risks of online activities and victimization that could occur, so that they are aware of your concerns, according to the FBI’s “Parent’s Guide to Internet Safety.” Some younger children don’t realize that there are predators that pretend to be kids, hoping to glean personal information from unsuspecting youngsters. Talking about concerns frankly, yet in a calm way so as not to scare children, is key.
Frequent check points with your children, even a short question about what site they are looking at, lets kids know that the parents are doing their job to protect them from potential harm.
Safeguard Account Information
Parents who allow their children to surf the Internet should discuss the importance of safeguarding all personal information–from the child’s name, the town the live in, to account passwords and screen names. Explain that these bits of information are not for general consumption, but only for each child and his parents to know.
Parents and guardians can use their kid’s account information to do spot-checks–randomly check email or log in to frequently visited websites to see what exactly their child sees while online. While teens may see this practice as an invasion of privacy, parents can ease their fears by knowing exactly where their child has been online.
Employ Parental Controls
Many Internet service providers (ISP) and websites geared toward younger visitors have parental controls available that either limit activities or block inappropriate content from young eyes, according to the FBI. Learning about these controls and using them can help give parents peace of mind as their kids play games, enter chat rooms and send email. If the parental controls are not apparent on your ISP’s home page, call to ask how to get these devices installed.
Keep Up With Internet Trends
The Internet Keep Safe Coalition, a collaborative effort of local and national governmental and law enforcement agencies, helps parents keep their kids out of harm’s way while using the Internet. One of their tips is for parents to educate themselves about current trends, hot new games and other online products in which their children may show an interest. The joke that a preschooler has to show his parents and grandparents how to find things online is not funny if the older generations lack of computer knowledge leads to a dangerous situation for the child.
About this Author
Erica Roth has been a freelance writer since 2007. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and was a college reference librarian for eight years. Roth earned a Bachelor of Arts in French literature from Brandeis University and Master of Library Science from Simmons College Graduate School of Library and Information Science.