Surfing the Internet is a risky activity for kids and as parents you have to monitor your children’s Internet interactions. The best way to protect kids online is to make sure they do not go on the Internet without adult supervision. However this is not always practical and the following tips below will give you more ideas.

  1. Place the computer in a visible location in your home – Placing the computer in the kitchen or family room will help minimize any potential issues which manifest themselves in “private” settings.
  2. Leverage Internet Service Providers (ISP) Default Security Settings – Most ISPs have a level of security built-in to their network. You should check to see what levels of protection they offer and see if you can take advantage of that.
  3. Install up-to-date security software – Anti-spyware and anti-spam programs are a must have on every computer which connects to the Internet. Undesirable people who pose a risk to your kids are finding ingenious ways to get to them, sometimes through applications designed as games. A security program is likely to pick up these kinds of approaches.
  4. Check out every website your child visits yourself or use technology – There really is no substitute to parenting. Knowing exactly which websites your kids visit is an important element. Having said that there are programs which measure the trustworthiness of a website and flag inappropriate sites. Also looking at their browser history.
  5. Make use of parental controls – All the leading operating systems are equipped with some levels of parental controls. Create accounts for your kids and restrict the websites they can visit online. However kids nowadays are generally more tech savvy than you that’s why no one approach will eliminate all the threats.
  6. Teach your kids the importance of keeping personal information private – Children need to be aware that they should never tell strangers any personal information including their last name, school, home address, phone number, and family details. This could easily be used by some very dangerous people to cultivate a relationship with your kids online.
  7. Say no to online chat – As a parent you need to set the rules of using the computer. In addition to putting in the controls, you cannot always be around to see what your kids are doing online. You should set up strict rules on what is acceptable and what is not, with consequences. One such rule is that under no circumstances should they be engaged in any online chatting of any sort. Explain to them that people can pretend to be someone they are not because they cannot see them.
  8. Teach your kids to be open with you – Your kids should know they are expected to come to you or another trusted adult if they come across inappropriate content on the Internet. Also if they are contacted by someone they do not know they should tell you first before doing anything else.

With the number of devices which can now connect to the Internet nowadays such as games consoles, it is important to implement parental controls on these as well. Having said all this, restricting access to the Internet for your kids is ultimately the best way forward. Until they reach an age where they can fully comprehend the dangers, limiting the time they have online, and having strict rules for them to stay on a single website should help protect kids online.

22 Comments
  1. Great set of rules. Parents always say its “impossible” to keep track of kids online activity; your summary shows that with a few simple steps, its possible monitor much of what they do in cyberspace. With all the types that frequent the net, and the prominence of cyber bullying, these steps can make a huge difference.

  2. I’ve never had any problems online, because my family always had a very healthy relationship with the internet. Every since I was little, I’ve watched them on the computer and then mimicked their actions. They’ve always talked to me about what was safe, which websites I was visiting, who I was talking to. Like this tips say, it’s very important to have a positive home environment where the kids will feel compelled to listen and feel safe to share. Of course, protection is the key and it doesn’t hurt setting up a security system.

  3. This seems like a very comprehensive list. I think for many parents, however, the challenge of keeping their children ‘cyber safe’ involves more variables than a list like this has the scope to account for. That is to say, even if you implement each of these tips as best you can, there is bound to be fluidity in your children’s willingness to follow your advice. At the crux of this dynamic, of course, is the fact that many parents know less about how the internet works than their teenage children do—in many cases this is simply a function of growing up immersed in the medium versus being introduced to it later in life. For parents that have neither the time nor perhaps even the opportunity to educate themselves (many are educated by their children!) to the point that they’re able to keep on top of their children’s internet habits, these tips will only help so much.

  4. It’s a good idea to monitor the children when comes to using the internet. I think it’s better for the parents to find out what websites do the kids have surfed because the advance of technology, the kids can do basically anything online without you knowing it. There’s also data monitor, which you’re able to keep track of the websites and also limit the time for the kids to use the internet. I definitely agree with you on number 4, which I think it’s very important to know every single website that’s visited by the kids in order to make sure they have gone to the right and appropriate sites.

  5. Great tips! However, there are a lot of sites that kids use these days to hide their IPs where they can still access the sites that are being blocked. Many students in school also use these websites to go through social networking and gaming when it is supposedly blocked during schools. (I should know because I’ve done this during high school :P). I think you can protect your kids but not completely. But I think most of all, your last tip to be more open is the best one for today’s kids.

  6. These are good suggestions and parents should consider everyone of them, however these alone won’t keep your child safe. It takes much more than just trying to block or track where the child has been. Kids today are good at the internet, much better than many adults. You need to talk with your child, everyday. Reinforce that these rules are to keep them safe, that you as a parent aren’t trying to keep them from growing up and being independent, that you are instead trying to make sure they do grow up. It’s hard to discuss with them the things that we as adults are most worried about but they need us sometimes to do just that. My children were always more open to my rules if they understood exactly why I had made the rules. They need to be aware of the vast dangers out there, and to understand that not everyone is a good person. It’s hard but honest communication seemed to work best for me.

  7. Kids are always trying to get around the range of view of their parents. There are certainly good points that were written in this post, but the far most important one is the last point. Having an open relationship is absolutely necessary for a parent to be able to protect their kids.

  8. It amazes me how many parents don’t control what their kids do on the Internet. It is extremely easy to install software to manage your children’s usage, restrict access to bad website and keep their information private. It’s unfortunate how many terrible cases could have been prevented if the guardians had just taken a few hours to do some research. I hope that many new parents read this article so that they can protect their family.

  9. These tips are very helpful and it will help adults understand the importance of protecting kids. Some parents doesn’t even care that their kids go online because they thought no one can harm their kids as they are only facing a computer. What they didn’t know is that there’s a high risk of harm if they are online all the time.

  10. I agree with this. Sometimes, I see little kids talk with online “boyfriends” or “girlfriends” they meet in games such as minecraft. To us, it seems like stupidity, to them, they dont realize what they are doing wrong.

  11. When I was a child, my mother used prenatal control on our computer. We could only go to sites that she felt was appropriate for us at that age. She also made us a separate login so we would not use the one her and my father used.

  12. The best thing you can do is to just get rid of the internet for them. If you find it hard to monitor your kid’s online activities then you shouldn’t have set them up for the internet whilst they’re developing. Even though it’s partially a right for every kid to be able to use the internet, if you can’t monitor them properly might as well just remove it from the equation altogether.

  13. Great tips. My parents never monitored my online activity but it was a different time then. No 24/7 social networking and personal information. I don’t have kids yet and I wonder what the internet will be like when I do. It’s very important to teach them that once it’s online it’s really there forever.

    • I agree with you… I’d hate to raise a teen or pre teen during these awful times. I mean, how can it be those parents out there don’t freak out when they find out their kids are using Facebook?! I know I would!

      I know that forbidding them to use that would be futile in the long rune, because they might end up using it secretly, so instead I’d ask them to add me so I could closely monitor their activity there and even their friends there. Social media is the one thing that worries me the most tho.

  14. With the continual growth of inappropriate content on the Internet, it has become very unsafe for kids to use. This is quite alarming, as kids online are very vulnerable to things like adware, etc. They are very easy targets and do not know any better, so they can be targeted by phishers or advertisers.

    • I know what you mean, I think the parents biggest fear is no longer the idea of their kids watching porn online, but not getting tricked by a sexual predator. Internet actually made everything easier for those perverts trying to trick our kids! I’d hate to be raising a kid now… specially a teen. A very hard work! So many dangers, but what makes things worse is the fact kids and teens in general don’t perceive danger just like we do. They just don’t… hence all those teen pregnancies and other awful stuff.

  15. When it comes to online safety, I am one of the confused many who don’t think that safety is strictly reserved for people who are online. Offline safety should be as important if not more important than online safety. The confusing thing is for me is how online safety seemed to undermine offline safety or unrelated to the offline existence of our internet users. Then again, sometimes I also wonder if Google would force us to commit, considering the level of dependency we have on its features to stay safe online.

  16. Some of these guidelines are good, like not giving out personal info online, but restricting children when it comes to technology can and will only manifest curiosity. You’ve got to trust your children that they won’t access pornography or inappropriate content. And even if they do, so what? It seems like today’s parents don’t understand that as a kid, they did the same things, and that just being too strict will incite trouble. There are a lot of things that kids can and will do to try to gain more and more access, because the reality is that just censoring something won’t make it go away. It’ll only grow.

  17. The number 6,7 and 8 tips are completely crucial! i often think about how dangerous it can be to raise kids during this time, it is so dangerous out there and sometimes kids can’t keep to themselves all their personal info! No matter how many times you tell them! Hopefully mine will! I’ll tell them why and give them example of what could happen if they don’t keep that info to themselves.

    I totally agree with the number 7 as well, the kid might find a way to do it without you knowing it, but there are way to block that kind of softwares. I’ll not allow my kids to use social media either, have heard a lot awful stories of teens meeting guys there and ending up dead or raped.

    The number 8 is tricky, isn’t easy to achieve that with your kid so easily, but hopefully I will!

  18. I think number 8 is most important, because there will be times where you won’t be able to monitor your children on the computer and those will be the times where your children are tested; can they truly do what’s expected of them? Probably not all, but if they are willing to come to you, the parent to discuss things, then it’s really no problem. There is a need to limit things but sometimes, such as with their friends or classmates, they’ll have exposure anyways.

  19. I have a computer in my living room where my kids are exclusively allowed on. I also establish strict parental controls; block sites by whitelisting, block some ports, control my router, and setting time limits. I also communicate a lot with my kids so that they get used to communicating with me as well.

  20. There are some parents who install key loggers on the computer their child uses. Fact though is some sites have virtual keyboards. So if your child uses this virtual keyboard to log into a site you’ll be no wiser. Using a keylogger certainly isn’t a great way to protect kids online.

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