Surfing the Internet can expose children to inappropriate material and other dangers. It is very important for parents to be aware of the risks, educate children about them, and monitor children’s use.
The Internet is a wonderful tool. It makes information easily accessible from home and facilitates fast communication via email. In addition, it can be educational and fun. But the Internet can also be dangerous.
Here are some tips to help safeguard your children when they use the Internet.
- Spend time online with your children. Learn how they use the Internet and talk to them about their use.
- Keep the computer where everyone can see it, for example, in the living room or family room. This helps you monitor children’s use.
- Monitor your children’s involvement in chat rooms.
- Find out what online safety policies are in place at school. Lobby to have safeguards put in place if they don’t exist.
- Survey the Internet sites your children have visited by clicking on your Internet server’s “history button.”
- Consider getting a software or online filtering program that blocks sites that aren’t suitable for children.
- It can also be helpful to maintain access to your children’s accounts so that if you become concerned about their online behavior, you can check their email now and again. Since this entails a privacy issue, let your children know that you will do this to monitor their safety.
- Agree with your children on which Web sites they are allowed to visit.
- Agree on the length of time they can be online.
- Agree ahead of time to consequences for not following agreements and rules.
You should also make sure that your children understand and agree to the following conditions:
- Never to give out personal information (name, age, address, phone) or use a credit card online without your permission.
- Never to share their passwords with anyone, including friends.
- Never arrange to meet in person someone they met online unless you agree and go with them.
- Never to reply to uncomfortable messages they receive. Always tell you when they receive any.
- Never to download games without your permission.
- Never to download pictures from an unknown source.
It can be helpful to write down the agreement in the form of a contract and have each child sign it.
If your child becomes a victim of online abuse, it is very important to remember that just as with other forms of abuse, it is not his or her fault.