Summer Internet Surfing Keeping Kids Safe Online
The internet makes it possible to travel anywhere in the world with a click of a mouse. One minute your child can be visiting an African Safari, the next a castle high atop a mountain. Keeping children safe online is a chore for any parent: Information of all sorts is just a press of the finger away – and that is where the danger lies.
Seemingly harmless websites can harbor dangers that your child may not even understand. Depending on the age, and also the special needs, he or she may not even realize that what is on the screen contains potential dangers.
All children are vulnerable – some more so than others. Cyberbullying risks may accelerate for a child who cannot read social clues. As a parent, you face many challenges each day. Hopefully, the tips provided here will help you protect your child with summer internet “surfing” right around the corner.
Tips for Keeping Your Home Network Safe
Internet safety begins with setting up filters and parental controls. If you can start out by limiting the access your child has to potentially dangerous websites, you are ahead of the game. How do you do that?
Follow these tips for improving home network security:
1. Place computers in common spaces in the home. You do not want your child hidden away in a room where you cannot see what he or she is doing online.
2. Use the latest virus protection and keep it updated. Install firewalls to protect against cyberattacks and hackers.
3. Set up child-friendly browsers that filter out dangerous content. Some highly recommended options include:
- Zoodles and App Kids: Videos & Games (age 3+)
- Kido’z (age 4+)
- Tweens Browser (age 7+)
- KidsClick! And Zilladog (age 8+)
- FactMonster (age 9+)
- SweetSearch (age 13+)
You can read more about these and other browsers for children at https://www.commonsensemedia.org/lists/kid-safe-browsers-and-search-sites#.
4. Set up parental controls and install filters that will block certain types of images and websites. Net Nanny is one of the highest rated internet filters you can get and has been featured on both Good Morning America and Dr. Oz. There are many websites and YouTube videos to help you set up parental controls. A little bit of time spent one evening can help give you peace of mind later.
Establish a Set of Online Rules and Behaviors
Education begins in the home. You cannot always control what your child does outside of the home but teaching your child acceptable online behavior will help them stay safe both inside your home and wherever else they may go.
- Set internet rules for what is and is not allowed. Let them know what content is acceptable for viewing.
- Establish the consequences for not following the rules – such as losing internet access for a set period.
- Help your child set up passwords for different accounts. Teach them how to create safe and sensible passwords, and provide a small notepad or password book to store them for future use. Tell them to never give the password out to anyone else.
- Explain the dangers of opening unknown emails and why it is important not to open an email from someone they do not know. Let your child know to call you before opening a suspicious email or attachment.
- Educate your child about the dangers of sharing personal information. Create a list of “do not share” information that they can keep handy by the computer. Provide them with the information they are allowed to “share” and when they can do so.
- Explain cyberbullying and how that is not tolerated in your home. Tell your child to let you know if he or she is on the receiving end of cyberbullying, or if they see it being done to someone else.
- Discuss sexting and the sending of inappropriate photos and messages. Explain the potential consequences of these actions.
- Remind your child that once something is posted or sent, it can never be taken back. Even when something is deleted from social media, there is still a record somewhere in the cloud.
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