As a parent, you may not have had computers and the Internet while growing up, but this technology is often easily available for today’s kids. Children are getting exposed to computers at younger and younger ages.
Though the Internet can be beneficial for educational, social and entertainment purposes, it also can expose users young and old to dangerous websites and situations if used without caution. As your child’s computer literacy and Internet usage grow, keep these basic points in mind while teaching safe use of the Internet:
• Keep your child or family’s computer in an open “high-traffic” area of your home, such as the living room. This will make it much easier for you to monitor your child’s Internet usage.
• Create a list of “House Rules” for computer usage, and keep it posted next to the computer. Simple rules such as time limits and download restrictions can help your child learn how to use the Internet safely.
• Talk to your child about the consequences of sharing personal information online. This is especially important if they want to use a social media site such as Facebook. Set up the correct privacy settings for websites they use. And don’t forget: People online aren’t always who they say they are. Coach your child to never give out personal details via email or chat.
• Share an email address with your child so that you can monitor what he or she sends and receives.
• Bookmark your child’s favorite websites and then visit them yourself. You’ll be able to see firsthand how site members interact with one another, and whether or not the sites contain and objectionable material.
Remember to encourage your child to always use caution when accessing the Internet and to ask your permission when in doubt. With the right guidelines and supervision, you and your children should be able to have lots of fun and productive Internet time.