The Internet is a wonderful creation. It has opened infinite doors to knowledge, communication, discovery and much more. However, the Internet can also be a very dangerous place, especially for children. The Internet grants its users a degree of anonymity. This anonymity helps keep innocent users safe, but it can also be used for malicious purposes. Adults generally know how to keep themselves safe while using the Internet, but a child usually does not. It’s a parent’s responsibility to ensure that their child is safe while using the Internet, but that can seem like a very difficult task. It doesn’t have to be difficult as long as you prepare yourself, your computer and your child before allowing them to browse the Internet.
Have a Talk with Your Child
One of the best ways to keep your child safe on the Internet is to explain to them what they should and shouldn’t do while browsing the Internet. Sit them down and have a serious discussion before letting them use the Internet. Ensure that they understand everything you are saying to them, but try not to talk down to them. It’s also important to let them know that you trust them, but there are plenty of untrustworthy people on the Internet that could take advantage of them.
After the discussion, ask them if they have any questions to ensure that you cover everything. You can even quiz your child after the discussion to help them retain the information.
Cover Key Topics
Before your discussion, write down some key topics to cover.
For example, a good subject to cover is keeping personal information private. Tell them to never give out their home address, phone number, email address, school name, age or any other personal information on the Internet. If a person contacts them asking for any information, tell them to refuse the request and notify a parent as soon as possible. It is especially important that they know to never set up a meeting with someone they’ve met online.
Another good topic is adding contacts and befriending strangers on Facebook. Social networking sites can be a lot of fun, but there are plenty of dangerous people on those sites. Social networking sites generally retain some amount of personal information. You can set your profile to allow only friends to view your profile, but many people add strangers for no reason. Tell your child to never add someone as a contact or friend unless they know for certain that they know that person in real life.
One of the most important topics to cover is cyber-bullying. Cyber-bullying is the act of harassing and degrading someone through digital means. Over the years, the number of instances of cyber-bullying has steadily increased. It has become a major problem for parents and schools. Tell your child to notify a parent or teacher if they find themselves being bullied online. This can be a sensitive topic, so assure them that they’ll be safe if they notify a parent or teacher about the abuse.
Use Parental Controls on Your Computer
You have the power to control which websites your child can go on. Computers and browsers can easily be configured to block certain websites. You can even install software that has various parental controls such as IP blocking, content filters, website security ratings, instant message monitoring and more. These programs can usually be tailored to your preferences to enable you to have as much control as possible.
Monitor Your Child’s Activities
Many children don’t realize that their Internet activities are kept in logs on the computer. If they do, they probably don’t understand how to access these files or tamper with them. Before letting your child browse the Internet, clear your browsing history to ensure that only the child’s browsing session is kept. After they are done, you can look at the logs to check if they have been on any suspicious websites.
Watch Them When They Browse
Keep the computer in a family room or other open area instead of their bedroom or an enclosed space. Children won’t be as tempted to bend rules in an open area in the company of other people. Parents can also regularly glance at the screen to ensure that they’re being safe.
Be involved in your child’s online activities. Be informed on methods of Internet security. Most importantly, ensure that your child knows how to be safe on the Internet. With some communication, precautions and trust, you can ensure that your child will be safe from dangerous people and situations on the Internet.