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Three Tools Keep Kids Safe on the Web

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The World Wide Web has opened a world of understanding and knowledge to children, but fear has many parents holding that globe above the reach of little hands.

You can create a safe path through that world using the tools of education, communication, and vigilance.

 

Education

Before allowing your children internet access, sit them down and teach them some basic safety practices – and then quiz them on it. Make it fun by offering small rewards for correct recitation of safety rules.

Basic safety tips recommended by the FBI include:

  • Never share any personal information under any circumstances. Personal information includes your name, home address, school name, hometown or phone number.
  • Recognize that someone online may not be who they say they are. A person may say he is an 8-year-old girl, but could really be a grown up man. That man could be someone who is not nice.
  • Tell a parent right away of someone says something that makes you feel scared or uncomfortable.
  • Never agree to meet someone you have met online. Always tell a parent if someone asks to meet you.

Tips for helping children avoid inappropriate content are:

  • Create a list of favorites for your children. Spend some time surfing with each child for favorite sites to place into their folders. The favorites tab can be a lot of fun for kids. They will enjoy seeing a folder with their name on it, full of their favorite places to learn and play.
  • Tell children to ask you before visiting any new web site.

 

Communication

Discussing safety, giving safety quizzes, and spending time scouting sites together are all examples of communication – but family sharing can go further. What are your family’s values? What kinds of things are good to see and read? What kinds of things might you want them to avoid? Asking these open-ended questions not only brings parents and children closer, but it makes little ones feel good when you seek their opinions and feelings. And children love it when good answers get a high five or a hug.

 

Vigilance

Of course, learning and talking can’t replace good old-fashioned parental vigilance. Don’t allow children long blocks of unsupervised time online. Children, especially young children, should be using a family computer in a family area. If safety and appropriate surfing are goals, allowing kids to hole up in bedrooms with laptops, unsupervised, is unwise.

Vigilance may decrease as children grow into their teenage years, as long as that easing off is based on trust. Parents sometimes relent because they feel uncomfortable asserting authority with resistant teens. Just remember, it is well within your rights as a parent to look over the shoulder of any child in the home, so don’t be afraid to let them know that. Sure, teens may pout and grumble, but they will respect you – and need you to draw lines that can’t be crossed. You may find, however, that if you keep a regular watch over a child’s online activities beginning when he is 6, he won’t be surprised to see you checking to make sure he is safe at 16. If communication has been strong all along, this kind of tension likely won’t be so intense.

The Web has given kids unprecedented access to knowledge and understanding, but it has also exposed them to a new wave of predators and unprincipled profiteers. If parents are educating children about safety, keeping communication strong, and remaining vigilant, they can make sure this wonderful Web is used for only for its noble purposes.

 

1 comment

  1. bbom

    i want to thank you for this informative read, i really appreciate sharing your post.

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