Your kids are online; keep them safe!
Internet revolution has begun – Do you know where your kids are?
Online safety for kids should be a very big concern for parents everywhere in the world. There are millions of kids getting online these days for a number of reasons. They do not understand how dangerous the internet can be for them. It is every parent’s responsibility to know what kind of potential threats there are.
For most kids winter holidays are fast approaching, so now is a great time to inform your children about online safety. More time at home means more time on the computer and internet for many, and whether or not you have had a talk about online safety with them before, it is never a bad thing to cover the ground rules of staying safe in the online world.
I am not trying to suggest you to suffocate kids with rules and regulations; just tell them that with a few common-sense tips they will stay out of digital trouble (Not to mention keep their internet access privileges/rights intact). If you do not know where to start, TRY these TEN tips. While the tips below are by no means exhaustive, it provides a good starting point to use or modify to meet the needs of your children.
Talk to your kids about rules and expectations
Every home environment is different with regard to what is acceptable to view online and what is not. Be sure to let your kids know what the rules are so they can make good decisions for them. Online safety begins at home with a discussion.
Educate yourself and your children
Every generation has its own slang words. You had it, we have it, your kids have it and there is definitely a new way of talking when it comes to texting on mobile phones or chatting on the Internet.
With the rate at which technology changes, most parents left in the dark and do not have a clue about what their kids is doing. The most important things you can do are to know what your kids are doing, talk to them about online predators and what they can do with their personal information as well as educate yourself to help protect them.
Keep time limits
Limit your kids’ time online, just as you do with their TV viewing… It is a good idea to set time limits for kids to be able to check their email, IM with friends, or update their Facebook or Twitter pages. A set time to go online for educational information, or for fun, can make a world of difference.
Check out your kids’ Social-Networking profiles
Do NOT be afraid to get up in their business. It is your responsibility to make sure that they are not getting themselves into digital trouble. Open your own social networking account on the same website where your kids are and let them know you are there and why you are doing all these things. STEP carefully, however, and keep in mind that you CANNOT monitor your children’s 24*7, and some kids may resent such monitoring.
TRUSTe Online Survey: About 80% of teens surveyed used privacy settings to hide their online contents from certain friends and their parents.
Verify browser settings and their browsing history
Setting up an appropriate surfing environment and time is especially important for younger kids, but even teenagers and adolescents can benefit from some added safety settings. Make sure that the security settings on your internet browser are not set too low, making it easier for malicious software aka malware to get onto your system. Also, make sure that the internet browser history is left intact, so that you can periodically monitor where your kids have been browsing.
So much of your kids’ online safety is in their hands every time they type anything on social networking sites or chat rooms. Make sure your children understand the importance of not sharing certain information, like their full name, name of the school or college they attend, home address, age or cell phone number with people they (or you) have never met F2F (Face-To Face) or IRL (In Real Life).
Check your kids’ privacy settings on Facebook or other social networking website. With just a single mouse click in your kids Facebook account, you can make sure that people they are not “friends” with cannot see their posts, education or any personal information. Ask your kids to refrain from posting photographs on social networking websites. Pictures of children may be targets for Cyber-stalkers and Social Networking Predators.
TRUSTe Online Survey: More than 1 out of 5 parents have previously blocked or restricted their kids’ use of social – networking websites due to privacy concerns.
No Face-to-Face meetings with strangers
If talking with online strangers is bad, meeting them Face-To-Face (in person) is even worse! Be clear with your children that no one will set up a meeting with strangers, child or adult, who they do not know already. Explain that online friends and strangers may not be who they are issued.
Don’t Reveal Too Much
If your child participates in chat rooms or tweets on Twitter, ask them to remember that they do not reveal too much about their daily schedules, such as “After school I’ll be at cricket practice at the school ground”, or where they are if they are alone or will be alone.
Don’t take candy from strangers
Discuss the benefits and harmful effects of internet with your child. Teach your kids that not everything they read online may be true. Any offer that’s “too good to be true” probably is. Luring emails or private messages with alluring offers to make money or win exciting gifts are most probably a scammer’s bait. So tell them to stay away from fraudulent emails.
Install Parental Control Software
Take advantage of parental control features on your computer by restricting inappropriate content. Do not forget to inform your kids that you have done this. Tell them frankly that you are not spying on them – you are keeping them safe!
The online safety tips we have listed above are a good starting point for any family with kids who are mature enough to use computers, but they are by no means an exhaustive list. Keep an eye on your kids’ online life, see what is working and what is not, and stay involved.
If you think I have missed anything, or if you have something to share, please leave a comment below. I love hearing from you!