With so many devices at home and school, from computers to mobile devices, kids can get on the internet easily and it is hard to know what they do and what they see online. What can parents do to ensure online safety of our children, so they are not staying on screen too long, they are not giving out password by accident, and they are not bullied online?
7 Tips for Keeping Your Kids Safe Online
1. Get involved. The best way to keep your kids safe online is by being involved in their life and their online activities. Also, be sure to stay “in the know” with current social media trends and apps that are hot with youth.
2. Set rules. Setting rules for what times and how long your child can use the internet is a great starting point in your drive to keep them safe. When the time comes to allow kids online, sit down as a family and write out a set of rules that can then be kept near the computer. Be sure to set out clear consequences (and follow through on them) if the rules are not followed.
3. Don’t be afraid to say no. We all want our children happy, but that doesn’t mean you have to always say yes. If they want to have an app or social media account that you are uncomfortable with, tell them no.
4. Set kid-friendly search filters on your computer. Most browsers have filters that you can set so that you can prevent your child from searching for things that you do not want him or her to see.
5. Teach them safe online behaviors. Make sure you teach your children how important it is to not give out any private information such as passwords, photos, name, phone number, address, etc. Also be sure that they know not to click on any links. Be real with them about why they need to follow these rules. Kids can understand things better than we give them credit for and it’s important that they know of the true danger that is possible.
6. Keep the computer in a central location in your home. Having your computer in a place that you can easily see it is a great way to keep tabs on what sites your kids are going to and who they may be communicating with.
7. Invest in a strong internet security program. There are many different online security programs out there, choosing one that best suits your family needs should be easy. Here are some of our favorites:
a. Norton Family Series – this web based program is great for several reasons. It works on iOS, Android, Windows and Mac computers. You can choose different programs based on the number of devices that you want put on it. It also has very flexible filters so you can pick and choose what your child can see and search for based on your wants and not that of the software.
b. ContentWatch Net Nanny – This software offers protections along the same lines at the Norton Family Planner, but one of our favorite features is that it lets you put a time limit on internet access for the kids and that time limit can be monitored across all devices! That means that if you have a 1 hour internet limit, they get one hour, period. It doesn’t matter if they are on the computer or their phone or tablet. Once their hour has passed, it’s done.
c. OpenDNS Home VIP – This is the most affordable of our favorites of security software. Many of the features of this software are available for free, although the paid version offers greater security features. You can monitor all internet access and set personalized parental controls regardless of device.
Do you have any suggestions you’d like to share?
To teach young children about online safety, check out this free eBook of Little Bird Internet Security Adventure. For school age kids, this Cyber Safety site will be helpful. For teenagers, go over 7 principles of digital citizenship