The prevailing question for the 79% of American homes with internet access is – how can parents keep their children safe on the internet? And it’s no wonder why. More and more kids use the internet these days, for homework help, to chat with friends, and play games. Unfortunately, all kinds of predators have caught on to this trend, and are using the internet to prey on children and teens – sexually, emotionally, and financially.
Children, and most teenagers, simply don’t realize the very real danger that can often be associated with their online activities, especially in chat rooms or message boards. However, there are several ways to protect your kids online, and it all starts with education. Find out what is out there, and then follow these simple guidelines to help keep them safe.
1. Install a really good internet filter, one like Clean Internet, that has a high level of consistency in blocking bad content and allowing good content, and cannot by bypassed or uninstalled by the end user, and make sure you use it to its fullest capacity. Get activity reports, and keep tabs on what sites your kids are visiting – or trying to visit.
2. Place the computer in a family area of your home, where you can easily monitor internet activity. Know what your kids are doing while they are online, and who they may be interacting with.
3. Set rules, especially with teenagers, about what your kids can and cannot do online. Chat rooms, message boards, and instant messengers are the most common means that predators use to lure children or teens into sharing personal information, or into meeting them in person.
4. Educate your children about internet safety. Talk with them about not sharing their full name, phone number, address, or other personal family information, unless they have explicit permission from you. Represent to them, in age appropriate ways, the danger of trusting people online. Younger children especially, do not understand that sometimes people online are not really who they say they are.
5. Make sure that other places where your children might be able to access the internet are safe. Most libraries and schools have internet filters in place, but always ask before allowing your children to use these computers. If internet content blockers aren’t already being used, talk with the school administrators or library directors about getting them.
Using all of these methods is how parents can keep their children safe online, but it is important to remember that nothing is foolproof, and sometimes your kids may access content or have an experience online that is inappropriate or uncomfortable for them. Maintaining an open atmosphere so your kids know they can come to you and talk about these things without being shamed or punished, can often be the most effective internet safety method you employ.