In this day and age, it’s inevitable; your child is going to be exposed to screens (a lot of them), and they will at some point have access to internet browsing. The internet offers a heap of benefits including educational resources, fun games, and also allows you to keep up with loved ones across the country or around the world. But the internet can also be a scary place, and can pose some serious risks unless the proper precautions are put in place. With recent stories all over the news, it’s an important reminder that there are many things parents can do to keep their kids safe online. Check out these 7 internet safety tips for kids to get started.
1) Secure your equipment.
"Having the latest security software, Web browser, and operating system are the best defenses against viruses, malware [malicious software], and other online threats," according to Stop Think Connect, a public-service campaign led by the NCSA and Anti-Phishing Working Group (APWG) along with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Be sure to use software that updates automatically and secure all other devices that connect to the Internet and your computer. These measures also help protect against children's identity theft, which Kaiser calls an "emerging" threat. Reinforce safety through parental controls, which can even be applied to your child's smart phone. In addition, you can find kid-friendly E-mail accounts online and establish filters on your Internet search engine. And don't forget the computer's history button, which Balkam calls one of the best ways to monitor your child's online activity.
2) Online Friends:
Don’t agree to meet an online friend unless you have your parents’ permission. Unfortunately, sometimes people pretend to be people they aren't. Remember that not everything you read online is true.
3) Establish rules:
You should have rules that you and your children are clear about, Surfing the Web should not take the place of other important activities, including homework, playing outside, or spending time with friends," according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, which "recommends limiting total screen time in front of a TV or computer to no more than one to two hours a day for children older than two years.
Don’t send or respond to mean or insulting messages. Tell your parents if you receive one. If something happens online that makes you feel uncomfortable, talk to your parents or to a teacher at school.
5) Teach your kids to keep personal information private:
It's usually a bad idea to post personal information online such as phone numbers, addresses, and credit cards. If criminals gain access to this information, they can use it to harm you or your family.
6) Social Networking:
Many social networking websites (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, Second Life and MySpace) and blog hosting websites have minimum age requirements to signup. These requirements are there to protect you!
7) Talk to your kids about Internet use:
Talk to your kids regularly about how they use the Internet. If they're in the habit of talking to you about the Internet, they'll be more willing to come to you if there's a problem.
Most importantly, create an open conversation with your child about internet usage and safety. This will help your child feel more comfortable approaching you with questions about content they have come across online. The internet doesn’t have to be a scary place, use these tips to keep your whole family safe online!
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