Computers can be invaluable to enhance a child’s education, but as with any connection to the outside world, parents much ensure it remains a safe outlet for their kids. Predators, scammers, school bullies, and data thieves know that children can easily be exploited online if protections are not put in place by watchful parents. Here are some helpful tips for parents who want to know what they can do to keep their kids safe and free from harassment while surfing the internet.
Have a Family Computer
It’s much easier to monitor what children are doing and seeing online when their computer use is restricted to a family PC that is set up in a “public” area within the home. The living room or kitchen are ideal locations for a family computer and makes it much easier for parents to monitor what their children are viewing online.
Parents can also employ the use of a password that only they know to ensure their kids aren’t sneaking online when the parents are in the shower or away from home for a few minutes. While it may seem like a hassle to have to put in a password every time their child needs to use the family computer, it’s a small price to pay to ensure they keep their innocence and/or aren’t demoralized by bullies at school.
Parental Control Software
There are plenty of software apps that parents can install on the family computer, so they are in control of their child’s online activities. Popular parental control software includes Norton Family, Net Nanny, McAfee, and many others. When deciding which parental control software to install, parents should consider whether the app does the following
- It should prevent kids from sharing personal information.
- Blocks inappropriate content on web pages, social media sites, chatrooms, etc.
- Logs the child’s online activity including web searches, web pages visited, etc.
- Has remote monitoring features for parents, including updates and alerts sent to the parent’s smartphone.
Talk to Your Kids
Most parents have had the “stranger danger” discussion with their child. In today’s environment parents also need to include the internet in their discussion when their child is ready to go online. Tell your kids why it’s important not to share information such as their age or their address online, even with people they think they know. Let them know you are able to monitor their online activity at all times, so they don’t become tempted to try out unsavory sites their friends may recommend.
Lastly, limit your child’s internet use to school-related activities and discourage them from becoming obsessed with computer use by providing plenty of other activities and outlets for their excess energy. Playing family board games, going for a walk, playing a game of basketball, making a batch of cookies, or reading a book together at bedtime are all great ways to establish family bonds.