The fact that our kids live in a digital world doesn’t have to overwhelm us as parents. The more we know and communicate with our kids and watch out for them, the safer they will be. Below is a check list of safety tips and discussion topics, as well as great software resource from our good friend, McGruff the Crime Dog® (National Crime Prevention Council) to help ease the burden of keeping kids from unnecessary risk.
Online Safety Tips for Parents and Kids:
- Make sure you talk to your kids often about online safety.
- Keep the computer and other devices in a high-traffic area of your home such as the kitchen or living room where you can see what your child is doing.
- Surf the Internet with your children and let them show you what they like to do online, as well as games and apps on their iPods, laptops, iPads and other devices. Review the privacy policies of your child’s favorite sites to be aware of what kind of information is being collected about your child, and how it is being used.
- Remember that Internet technology can be mobile, so make sure to monitor cell phones, gaming devices, and laptops. Take a peek often to see what sites they’ve been surfing.
- Establish limits for which online sites children may visit and for how long (suggestion, less than one hour/day). By not allowing them to have free reign reduces their chances of being exposed to inappropriate content.
- Talk to your kids about the importance of keeping their information private. Tell your children NOT to put photos of themselves on the Internet or to give out their names, addresses, phone numbers, schools (even school mascot), or other personal information online.
- Know who is connecting with your children online and set rules for social networking, instant messaging, e-mailing, online games, and using webcams.
- Most browsers have settings that can block websites or entire domains. Use these controls to pre-select websites children can or cannot visit.
- Teach your child what to do if he/she comes across inappropriate sites or receives emails or invitations from strangers. Teach children what to do if they encounter pornography on a home or public computer, such as at a school or a library. Let them know to go to adult immediately for help.
- Install an internet filter or family safety software. Take a look at McGruff Safeguard
from our good friend, McGruff the Crime Dog®. This software allows you
to set parental controls and block websites, monitor child’s emails, web
browsing history and Facebook posts for older kids. It can be installed
on up to 6 different computers and even allows you to set time limits.
By teaching our kids how to stay safe online, keeping open communication with them about what they are doing on the internet and keeping a watchful eye, we can better protect them from the dangers of the digital world. Enjoy the great things technology has to offer now that you have the tools to keep your kids safe!