Cyber Parenting 101: Guidelines and Rules to Keep Your Children Safe Online
Many parents are not “techies” and openly admit they are not. However, they seem to agree that their lack of expertise in this area is no excuse to expose their children to an environment that is clearly risky. When it comes to underage children being online, there should be a set of household rules that are in place and followed — or no online connections will be provided.
Below, you’ll find several suggestions for technochallenged parents:
- Keep your computer in an open place such as the family room or rec room. No negotiation here! Online activities are only allowed in this public area – when you are home. Allow a computer connected to the Internet behind a teenager’s closed bedroom door and you are asking for trouble!
- Keep your computer and online connection password protected. Use passwords that cannot be guessed by ingenious teenagers. This way, if you are preoccupied or not home, online access is not possible. Change your password on a regular basis when they are not around. Better safe than sorry.
- Advise your children that they are not to give out their full name, address, city, state, phone number or name of their school to ANYONE. Those who they know in their off-line world get this info through traditional means. No reason whatsoever to give out this type of personally identifiable information online to anyone without your knowledge and supervision.
- Learn as much as you can about the Internet, how it really works including how to use your computer and browser so that you are aware of the potential problems your kids can run into. (After they are online, use the drop down bar in your browser’s location bar to get a hint of what they have been up to.) Don’t forget to use your computer’s “parental control” options to set perimeter around the types of sites your child may visit.
- Consider installing any one of the many filtering software packages that help prevent your children from being exposed to topics that would make you cringe. Such as:
Remember – this software is only a tool – not a replacement for your involvement.
You hear stories in the news all the time about police stings, pedophiles making contact with children or ‘tweens and teenagers running away to hook up with their newly discovered online love with disasterous and dangerous consequences, so an ounce of prevention can go a long way.
Although many young people would disagree, we know that their life experience simply is not in place yet to make mature decisions. That’s part of life and your children need you to be their guide as they use technology. Remember: Watching over your children’s online sessions is not an invasion of privacy.
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Online monitoring is a sign of a caring parent who is involved in the activities and information their children will be exposed to online. Yes, it may be frustrating and require parents to learn some new things along the way but you can do it!
Learn, get involved and be part of your children’s online experiences. Look at it as another activity you can share together!
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