Thursday, May 3, 2012

3 Tips For Keeping Your Kids Safe Online

Our staff recently provided a training titled "Internet Invasion: Protecting Your Online Privacy." Part of the workshop included a section of tips for parents on keeping kids safer while surfing the web. Here's a sample:

1. Know What They're Doing.
It seems logical, but many parents are not aware of the online activities in which their kids are engaging. It's crucial for Mom and Dad to get acquainted with the Internet places their kids visit and the tools they use to navigate that world. When you better understand that world, then it's easier to appreciate the benefits and assess the risks.

Download an e-book, try instant messaging, open a YouTube account, or Skype with a friend across the country. Practice will make perfect!

2. Create Rules.
Parents sometimes believe rules will simply inspire rebellion, but research has shown that having Internet use rules in a home can really alter a child's behavior. For example, if you have a clear guideline about your kids meeting online friends in "real life" then it reduces the likelihood that he or she will actually do it by 50%.

Sit down with your child and create the rules together. Keep them simple and review them throughout the year. Rules may include limits on when they can go online and how much time they may spend on the Internet.     

3. Stick Around.
A study by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children found that less than 50% of parents regularly check their kids' online activity. Also, more than half of the kids surveyed did not need parental permission to use the Internet and had no restrictions as to the amount of time they spent online.

It's important for parents to supervise their children's Internet use, particularly for kids under the age of 10. Consider keeping Internet-connected computers out of kids' rooms. Also, think about installing internet security software with parental controls, available from companies like Norton Online Family. However, monitoring programs are not a substitute for you chatting with your kids about being safe on the web.

More Resources on Internet Safety for Kids:

What tips do you have to share about keeping kids safe online?