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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.