The internet is an incredibly useful tool, yet it can also be a dangerous landscape.
Kids and young adults face many of the same internet dangers as adults — phishing, piracy, revealing too much private information, and malware — along with a set of other dangers that are far more detrimental including cyberbullying, cyber-stalking, obscenity, and online predators.
Of course, it’s also a fact that in this day and age the internet is necessary. Schools use the internet as an education tool and teachers include internet research as part of their lesson plan.
As parents, there are steps we can take to keep our kiddos safe, while they learn the ins and outs of the internet.
Learn about the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA)!
COPPA “helps protect kids younger than 13 … [and is] … designed to keep anyone from getting a child’s personal information.” Basically, the law requires website to formulate privacy policies and get parental consent.
Use tools designed to keep kids safe!
- Start your kiddo on a kid-friendly social media platform
Social media platforms make it easy for kids to share photos, reveal their location, and strike up conversations with strangers. Instead of jumping directly into Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, create accounts on kid-friendly social media platforms such as Togetherville, What’s What, ScuttlePad, Skid-e Kids, or giantHello, all of which include strict parental controls.
- Use a kid-friendly search engine
Hooray, this does exist!
- Use parental controls
Trust is a huge part of a parent-child relationship.
With that said, there are some things your kiddo simply won’t understand until they’re mature enough. Both Windows and Mac OS X systems are equipped with parental user controls. These include “time limits, website restrictions, and controlling which applications can be opened.”
Want to flex those parental controls a bit more aggressively? I don’t blame you!
Try out parental control software such as Net Nanny.
Create rules around internet usage!
- Keep the computer in a common area
Set up the computer in the living room or another common area.
Your kid is more accountable if they know a parent is close by and within easy access of viewing the screen. This means there is less likelihood that they’ll visit inappropriate sites or talk to strangers.
- Create standards around internet usage
From time limits to banned websites, it’s important to create rules around internet usage.
Hang a white board next to the computer and post the agreed upon guidelines. Allow your kid to be a part of the conversation, yet make sure your priority items make it on the list.
- Make sure kids know about private information
It’s second nature that addresses, phone numbers, and financial information is private. Of course, kids have to learn this! Along with internet usage guidelines, post a list of private information that is not to be shared.