While the Internet has certainly brought a wealth of information, convenience and has a made the world a much smaller place, the Internet has its liabilities and especially so for children and teens. The responsibility of protecting children from online dangers lies with parents. There are several steps you can take to provide Internet safety for kids.
One solution, which many choose, is to completely restrict their children from using the Internet. This solution is not always the best option. One, the Internet is here to stay, it is an important part of everyday life, and its use is a skill that is often required by schools and in the work place. Also, if you just tell your kids that they cannot have or use then Internet then you eliminate the opportunity to teach them how to use it safely. So, if they do use it when they are away from you, at a friends house or school then they will not have the tools they need to stay safe. Having talks and discussions with children about the risks is important, and as a parent you should set certain limits give them the information they need to stay safe and keep the conversation open in regards to Internet safety.
The following are 5 hands-on steps you can take to teach, limit and restrict children while they are online and therefore provide Internet safety for your kids.
5 Steps to Internet Safety for Kids: First of all have a conversation with your kids. Explain to them, in as much detail as their age will allow some of the dangers that exist online. For example, that strangers in chat rooms, are just that, strangers. That they should never agree to meet anyone, give out their names, phone numbers, address etc. The same conversation that you had with them about not talking to strangers applies even more so when online, so use that and extend it further. Please remember that most of these steps will only apply to computers you have at home. When your children are away from you they will have access to other computers and that is when those conversations will be the guidance that ensures their safety.
Secondly, there is software available, which can help to protect your children from any content that is not appropriate for them. Software like, Microsoft Windows Vista Parental Controls, helps parents to manage, monitor and administer the use of the computer by kids. The software, Windows Live OneCare Family Safety, filters certain chosen information and even a childs’ searches can be blocked for certain keywords.
Third, all web browsers allow for parental control settings. You can make personalized adjustments from the browser to set limits that you desire and to insure your childs’ safety.
Fourth, you can increase childrens’ safety by creating Limited User Accounts for your children from your Administrative Account. This restricts children from changing system settings, installing any new software which includes chat programs, games, etc. You can see the help section of your Operating System for detailed instructions on how to create User Accounts.
Fifth, be active and be a snoop. Yes a snoop, keep track of the websites that children are surfing. You can view all websites that they visited in the History List or Cookies from the web browser. You can even see email addresses, correspondence and downloaded files.
Always remember that these are concrete steps that will provide Internet safety for your kids and protect them while they are online and still allow them to get the benefits of using and learning to use the Internet.