Internet Safety: Ways to Protect your Child:
With children’s internet use increasing and the rise of social networking sites, ensuring your child’s safety online should be a priority for parents. The internet is a valuable tool for entertainment and education and children should be encouraged to use it as such. However, your child can also be exposed to material and behavior that they may find threatening and upsetting. Following these simple guidelines can help to keep children happy and secure as they browse the internet.
1. You should keep the family computer in your living room or other communal area. Avoid allowing your child to keep their computer in their bedroom. You can then see at all times what they are viewing and this reduces the risk of them accessing material that is unsuitable.
2. Agree with your child how much time they are allowed to spend online each day. This will depend on the age of the child and how much they might legitimately need the internet for study purposes. Agree on the time of day they can access the internet also and make sure that they stick to the rules agreed.
3. Talk to your child/children about the dangers of giving out personal information online. If they have a profile on any social networking site, warn them not to include any contact details that could identify them. Encourage them to set their profile to private so that no unauthorized person can view it. You should also advise them to use a screen name instead of their own name.
4. Encourage your child to talk to you about any communication they have received or viewed online that makes them feel uncomfortable or upset. Warn them not to reply to any such messages without telling you first. Cyber-bullying is becoming a major problem, particularly for teenagers so make sure that you take any reports of such behavior seriously.
5. Warn your child against sending pictures of themselves to strangers online. Make sure that they understand that strangers on the internet might not always be who they say they are.
6. Make sure that your child knows that downloading anything to the computer can cause serious damage. They must always get your permission before installing anything. You should always make sure that your computer is well protected with anti-virus software and / or firewalls.
7. There are various types of blocking and filtering software available, such as Net Nanny, that can block access to certain types of site you might consider unsuitable. Check with your Internet Service Provider (ISP) to find out if they offer any parental control options that can block your child from downloading any objectionable material.
8. Bookmark your child’s favorite sites so that they can access them easily. This also reduces the danger of your child accidentally accessing unsuitable websites through misspelling words.
9. You should spend some time on the sites your children regularly access, either with your child or alone. You will then be aware of the type of material available and of how other users of these sites can communicate with your child.
10. If possible, encourage your child to use your e-mail address instead of setting up their own so that you can monitor any communications that they are sending and receiving.
It is your responsibility to make sure that your children are informed about the benefits and dangers posed by the internet. Let them know that they can come to you with any concerns they might have.
Encourage them to err on the side of caution when it comes to revealing any information about themselves online.
Following these suggestions can help to put your mind at ease about your child’s safety online.
We wish you and your child happy time online!