Online Safety Information for Parents from WiredKids
We’ve heard a lot about the dangers of Internet use and how the law is working to combat these risks, but what can parents do? A lot. The following is a guideline for parents to address many of the problems that have been talked about.
Online Safety Guidelines for Parents
- Personal information stays personal. While this is an important rule for children, it’s also an important rule for parents. Giving information on your family and your children to the wrong person could be dangerous.
- Make sure your child doesn’t spend all of his or her time on the computer.
- People, not computers, should be their best friends and companions
- Keep the computer in a family room, kitchen or living room, not in your child’s bedroom. This way parents can monitor what is happening when the child is online. Knowing you are watching, kids are less likely to put themselves in risky situations and you can safely oversee what’s going on.
- Learn enough about computers so you can enjoy them together with your child.
- Watch your children when they’re online and see where they go.
- Make sure that your children feel comfortable coming to you with questions. This should apply to all situations including the computer. If your children feel they can trust you they are more likely to come to you with tough problems and questions.
- Keep kids out of chat rooms or websites with a live chat feature unless they are monitored.
- Be mindful of "On line" video games that have a chat and voice chat feature. These types of games are widely available for computers and console type games (Xbox, PlayStation, etc.).
- Familiarize yourself with how to operate parental controls on console devices such as Xbox, Wii, PlayStation, etc.
- Encourage discussions between you and your children about what they enjoy online. This way you can direct your children to safe sites that fit in with their interests and it helps our children know that we want an active roll in their lives.
- Discuss these rules, get your children to agree to adhere to them, and post them near the computer as a reminder.
- Help them find a balance between computing and other activities.
- Remember to monitor their compliance with these rules, especially when it comes to the amount of time your children spend on the computer.
- Get to know their "online friends" just as you get to know all their other friends.
- Warn them that people may not be what they seem to be. I can say I am a 12-year-old boy named Billy, but I’m not. The Internet provides cover for people to put whatever personas they desire. Predators often pose as children to gain our children’s trust.
- If necessary, install a 3rd party program for regulating and monitoring your child's activity. A simple Google search can yield several products.
- If your child has their own cellular "Smart" phone, monitor what apps they have installed and discuss their use with your child.
- Consider activating "restrictions," if available, on your child's phone to restrict access to certain apps, features, and content. Your provider and/or phone manufacturer should be able to provide information specific to your particular device.
Don’t give out your passwords or store them where they can be found – remember that those who control the passwords control the world. Find a password you can remember easily, but one that’s not so obvious that your children can figure it out. Also, change your password frequently. When you type it in, don’t let them look over your shoulder. Never store it on your hard drive or preprogram it into your sign on screen. This may cost you a few more seconds when you get online, but may save you plenty of heartache later.
Protecting Your Children When They’re Not at Home
Talk to the parents of your children’s friends and try to agree about monitoring the children’s activities online, as well as using similar tools to enforce your choices. If not, circumventing your parental controls is as simple as your children walking next door and computing at a friend’s house. If you can’t agree on a joint policy, ask that the other parents honor your wishes and keep your children off their computer while visiting.
Don’t store your credit card information on your computer. As inconvenient as it might be to have to access it from somewhere else, it creates too much of a temptation for computer savvy kids and their friends.