The Internet is a valuable learning tool for children. Children can see, do and learn things on the Internet that they would otherwise not be able to. The Internet can be a tremendous homework helper.
Unfortunately, the Internet can also be a dangerous place. Many parents do not allow their children to have access to the Internet at all. However, with monitoring, special filtering software and rules a child can be relatively safe online.
What You Can Do to Keep Your Child Safe Online
The main thing you can do for your children is to let them know that they are accountable for their Internet activities. When children realize that parents will monitor them consistently, they will generally abide by the rules.
- Have a family computer in a central location in the home. Children should only be allowed to be online via the family computer.
- Learn the “ins and outs” of the Internet yourself. Many parents feel inadequate on computers. Go to the library and read up on the Internet. Learn the jargon and equip yourself with the tools needed to keep your family safe online.
- Monitor your child’s use of the Internet. There are special programs which will send emails to your personal mailbox letting you know which sites your child visited, who they emailed, as well as the files they downloaded and the people they talked with on an instant messenger.
- Give your child rules to abide by when he or she is online. This should include the child being told they should never give out personal information to anyone. Rules may also include a list of acceptable sites a child may visit and whether or not the child is allowed to visit chat rooms.
- Time limits should also be set in place for how long a child is allowed on the Internet. There are special programs which parents can purchase for a child who may be home alone, if the parent feels the child may not abide by the rules. This software can be set to allow a child X amount of hours to surf each day. It can also be set up to shut down at certain hours of the day.
- Electronic safeguards should be installed on the computer. This includes a firewall, as well as a pop-up blocker, and a rating system.
If you are a parent who is interested in limiting access to protecting your minor from adult-only or websites with adult content, we suggest the Cybersitter and Net Nanny: