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Although I haven’t hit the stage where I have to monitor what my girls are doing on their tablets, I know one day that will change. Right now it’s all about interactive learning games with fun characters and bright colors, but eventually they will switch over to Google searches and Facebook. When it does change, I want to be sure I’m prepared to keep them safe.
It’s important for parents to know the dangers kids face on the internet. Did you know that internet crime is the fastest growing crime in the U.S., with children being the fastest growing victim pool? Then there’s cyber bullying. According to the i-SAFE foundation, more than 1 in 3 young people have experienced cyberthreats online. And don’t forget about personal information theft. Children are being targeted 35 times more often than adults. That’s some scary stuff!
The internet can be an amazing learning tool for kids. There is an abundance of knowledge at the tip of their little finger tips. But there is also a lot of uncharted territory where kids can get into trouble without even knowing it. So what can parents do to help keep their kids safe while using the internet? Here are 5 tips to help you out:
- Talk to your kids about the importance of being safe on the internet. They best thing you can do is teach your kids about internet safety. Talk to them about how important it is to keep their personal information private online. Explain to them how scammers operate and if something seems to good to be true, it probably is. Tell them that if they ever are unsure or feel uncomfortable about something that is going on online, to come to you immediately.
- Set rules and limits. Setting rules helps keep the communicate of internet use open. For example, a parent must be present when using the internet and computers/tablets must be used in a central location. This will make it easy for you to watch what they are up to online. It’s also a good idea to set guidelines for time spent on the internet.
- Use the security and privacy settings. Be sure your kids know that all social media accounts must be set to private in order to limit who can view their accounts. This will help monitor interaction with people they don’t know.
- Upload only if you are ready for everyone to see it. Make sure your kids understand that once something is posted to the internet, it’s not reliably removable. Just because you delete it, doesn’t mean someone else didn’t take a screen shot first. A good rule of thumb for kids to follow is, if they are posting something that they wouldn’t want their grandma to see, they probably shouldn’t be posting it!
- Use parental control software. Using a parental control software gives parents the ability to control the activity of their kids online. Parents are able to block access to different websites and programs as well as monitor use both on and offline. There is Parental Control Software for Windows as well as Parental Controls for Mac. These software programs offer much more than just monitoring what sites have been visited. You can keep track of your kids location via GPS on their phone and view what they are posting to social media. This is one of the best ways to know what your kids are up to online.
Although I don’t have to monitor what my kids are doing online just yet, I know my time is quickly approaching. These are the steps that I will take to help keep my kids safe while surfing the net.
What steps have you taken to provide internet safety in your family? If you have any stories, tips or thoughts please share with us below. Parents of tweens and teens please help us parents with young kids keep all kids safe online!